Goddard House nursing home to shut down

July 12, 2012
By

S. HUNTINGTON—The Goddard House Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, an enormous nursing home at 201 S. Huntington Ave., will close forever in September.

The shutdown leaves about 100 seniors looking for new homes and puts a question mark on the future of the 2-acre site and its historic 1927 building. It’s just the latest major change on S. Huntington, where the Home for Little Wanderers next door is also shutting down this fall amid controversial plans for a luxury apartment project.

The closure, announced yesterday to insiders, will be “incredibly difficult for Goddard House patients, staff and employees,” said Emily Brower, a Goddard House board of trustees member, in a Gazette interview. “It’s a very good facility and has provided very high-quality care, and we have a very dedicated staff.”

But the 85-year-old facility was facing long-term challenges with its outdated building and funding and marketplace shifts away from long-term nursing home care, Brower said. To modernize the building would cost $10 million, require partial shutdowns over two years, and result in fewer rooms because the site offers little expansion space, she said.

“We decided that [upgrading the building] was not good stewardship of the Goddard House mission and assets,” Brower said. “In the end, it really wouldn’t be meeting where the trends in health care are going.”

Goddard House’s assisted living facility in Brookline will remain in business. And the nonprofit organization, whose mission is to aid “underserved Boston elders,” intends to create some form of new programming as well.

“We have a group within the organization [that] is looking at, what are the community needs, what are the gaps, and how can we fill gaps?” Brower said.

Goddard House has not decided whether it will hold onto the property or sell it. Brower said the board of trustees specifically decided not to decide for now, so the organization would not be “distracted” during the complex shutdown. Goddard House does not have a pressing financial need to sell the property, she said.

“We haven’t even gone down that road,” Brower said of the future of the property, which is valued by the City’s Assessing Department at about $6.1 million. “It’s certainly a lovely building, I think.”

Brower said she believes the ornate, four-and-a-half-story, brick and stone building was erected for Goddard House. It has no official historic protections or status, she said. Goddard House was founded in 1849 elsewhere in Boston.

Another former nursing home on S. Huntington is about to reopen as a boutique hotel, and gigantic luxury apartment buildings were recently proposed for the Home for Little Wanderers site and a former state-owned lot on the same street.

The shutdown decision will be a surprise to many, as the facility is busy and regularly hosts community concerts and visits from elected officials. In May, Goddard House hosted a major “Eldercare Block” event celebrating itself and the other historic senior care facilities on S. Huntington: Mount Pleasant Home and Sherrill House.

The trustees decided this spring to shut down Goddard House, but kept the decision quiet for logistical reasons, Brower said. The facility’s 135 employees were notified on July 11. That same day, notices were mailed to residents and their families, and a 60-day shutdown plan was filed with the state Department of Public Health. The closure date is scheduled for Sept. 8.

Goddard House will assist residents in finding new places to live, possibly in other Jamaica Plain nursing homes, Brower said. It also will hold a job fair and other assistance efforts for the employees.

It is possible that Mount Pleasant, which is next door, and Sherrill House, two doors down the street, will take former Goddard House employees and patients. Both of those facilities rehabbed and expanded in recent years. Why couldn’t Goddard House do the same?

“That’s very interesting. We did talk about it,” Brower said. Goddard House faces the same challenges its neighbors had to overcome, such as many shared rooms with no private bathrooms; little space for rehab facilities; and a low amount of modern medical monitoring equipment. The old building lacks fire sprinklers, which must be installed under new federal rules by next year, a timeline that was one factor in the shutdown decision.

But Mount Pleasant and Sherrill House had their renovation projects under way several years ago. “Things have changed dramatically even in the last five years,” Brower said.

State and federal funding shifts toward at-home care and short-term rehab are making the classic nursing home model a challenge, Brower said. And Goddard House does not have the on-site expansion space its neighbors had, she said. Many of the residents receive Medicare insurance, which does not fully reimburse the facility for their care.

  • silent al

    The GH Board of Directors used an outside management Co. to manage the business, why did they not see these issues coming five years ago?  Why use an outside management company anyway? The Board of Directors is just passing the buck for not being responsible. Real TRENDS are toward More need for places like GH nursing home as many boomers won’t be able afford “assisted living” and home care usually becomes impossible with loss of function.  Spokesperson uses marketing jingo to justify irresponsibility. 

  • Ibewrite

    My dad is there and needs 24-7 medical care, so at-home care is not an option for our family. I think in a couple of years we’ll see nothing but apartment bldgs on this property.

  • Gomezmarco878

    sad, very sad, but money talks

    • Youremail

      Sure money talks.  Remember people, this is a buisness.  This is not about the residents at all.  When did the board know about the “sprinkler” issue???

  • Joyce

    Goddard House is just about the only nursing home in Boston with private rooms at least when
    a relative of mine was there.
    This is all about money and not about the residents or the community.

  • Steven

    The rapid pace of  the shutdown has created anxiety and havoc among the residents and their families as well as for the staff.  One wonders if the Goddard is being forthcoming about the plans for the site especially in light of the development that is going on in the area.