Historic nursing home’s closing producing ripple effects

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The closing of Eliza Bryant Village, the 126-year-old Cleveland nursing home slated to cease business in June, will have a long-lasting negative impact on its surrounding community and other Ohio facilities, say local leaders and industry experts. 

“It’s just unbelievable that’s what’s happening. I wish a sponsor out there would reach out and hear us and help them with this place and bring it back up because it’s just a monument here,” longtime neighboring resident Ceabe Watkins told local media Monday. 

Eliza Bryant leadership earlier this month announced the closing of the 99-bed skilled nursing facility, citing soaring costs, low census and insufficient pandemic relief funding for the decision. The nonprofit organization’s skilled nursing unit will close June 8, but its other elements will continue to operate. They include a home care unit, adult day care, senior outreach, affordable senior housing. community transportation and its Elder Justice Center.

The facility has been a staple in the Cleveland community and Hough neighborhood that specifically has catered to Black seniors’ needs when no one else would, the nursing home’s website states.

It’s also the Hough neighborhood’s largest employer, according to Ward 7 Councilwoman Stephanie Howse, who represents the area for the Cleveland City Council. She expressed concerns about the lack of options the facility’s closing will create for older Black adults. 

She added that the community is “rooting that they get on secure financial footing” with hopes that they can possibly reassess the decision in the future. 

“Many of our systems were designed at the exclusion of Black people. People say, yeah you can go anywhere, but really, can you? Many times in the economics you can’t,” Howse said.

Eliza Bryant leaders plan to lay off 99 employees, 58 of them union members, while others will be incentivized to remain on the job. 

“When they have raised the wages, it’s pushed them into the red. Then, because they haven’t been able to raise them enough, they don’t have enough staff,” said Pete Van Runkle, executive director of the Ohio Health Care Association.

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