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By Echo Menges, NEMOnews Media Group
Scotland County, MO – The community is reeling after the recent announcement the Scotland County Care Center (SCCC) is closing. On Wednesday, December 22, 2021, members of the public attended an emergency meeting of the Scotland County Nursing Home District Board of Directors held at the Scotland County Hospital conference room.
The first portion of the meeting was dedicated to public comments. Members of the community were invited to share their thoughts and ask questions about the coming closure. Like all nursing home district board meetings, this meeting was open to the public.
Unlike past meetings, last week’s meeting was well attended and included members of the press including KMEM Radio’s Corey Stott, KTVO TV’s Caelan McGee and this reporter representing the Memphis Democrat newspaper.
Citizens filled the room sitting opposite from the nursing home district board and the Scotland County Hospital Board of Directors, who were also invited to discuss how to keep food service going for hospital patients, which, up to this point, has been provided by the SCCC staff and kitchen facility.
The meeting agenda allowed for 30 minutes of public comment at the beginning of the meeting, however, the public comment portion lasted much longer – nearly two hours – and the board graciously allowed attendees to say what they came to say while doing their best to answer any questions.
“We would entertain comments about our closing from the public (about) how it impacts you directly, your family, the community, anything. It is a concern of ours as well and we’d like to hear you out,” said Scotland County Nursing Home District Chairman Bill Kiddoo.
The gathering was full of emotion – anger, fear and sadness – as the attendees tried to come to terms with the communal loss.
“My mother was just recently put in there and it concerns me that she would be so far away from her family and support, if we can even place her. You know I kind of feel like it’s the Hunger Games of the nursing home trying to compete with 36 other families trying to find a place that will accept her,” said Joan Morris.
“You know, these people made the big step to give up their homes to go into a care facility now in their in their 80s and 90s. We’ve got some that are 100. And now they’re going to be asked to leave a county and city that they have never ever been out of to go somewhere else and live their last years of life, and I think it’s just one of the saddest things there ever is,” said Connie Rohrbach.
“Losing this facility that doesn’t just impact our families or our loved one. It affects our staff and their families. It affects our hospital services. There is an impact that trickles down. So that impacts all of our community. Yes, it impacts our seniors when we have seniors who are 30 miles away, and we have such short notice. And, of all times – to be Christmas time – and we have a week to make… You know, all of a sudden we’re telling our loved ones we’re going to move you Monday. That’s awful to do to a family,” said Lori Halley-Fulk. “I know that doesn’t help us now, but I certainly wish that it would have been brought to the public attention. This is a well-meaning community, and we need senior services. I certainly wish we weren’t sitting here today, and I wish that it would have been brought to the public so that some remedies and suggestions could have been brought forward.”
“I think if there is some way that as a community we can all come together with some way to help you guys keep the doors open. I don’t feel like the families, even the town, was given any kind of prior notice that this was going to happen until all of a sudden wham the doors are locked and you’ve got to find some place to put your loved one. I had a loved one over there for several years. She came here from Iowa, stayed in the RCF until she couldn’t stay there any longer because of a broken hip. The people were, the nurses and the staff, everybody, was as kind as they could be to her. My father-in-law was there for his last year after my mother-in-law passed away, and that man was well known in the community. But one thing i felt so bad about, and I know it’s just it’s such a change for people to have to leave their home and come to the nursing home and expect those people to do what they do for that loved one. And you have to try and explain to that person, well, this is how it has to be, but yet 85, 95-year-old people – they don’t understand that. And so here we are we’re picking them up and removing them. Something else, and I will say honestly, I think the move, in my opinion, which doesn’t amount to a hill of beans folks, but that move is going to cause a lot of health problems for those people because they won’t be around familiar faces. They will lose sense of direction. Just all of those things, and then wonder, well how come Johnny hasn’t been in to see me today?” said Pat Fender.
“I am not speaking for the board. I’m only speaking for myself. I came on the board, was asked to come on the board, and decided to do it because my father-in-law was on the board years ago. He got cancer in Florida and we flew him home because he wanted to pass away in the comfort of his family and his friends, and he wanted to come to the Care Center and we were able to do that for him. So, being on the board was my way of honoring him. My mother’s also a resident. I believe (she) got admitted in August, and so I will only speak for myself. We get it. We know the impact. We are not doing this lightly. As of 12 days ago we could not fill a December schedule with a registered nurse. That single thing is what brought this emergency to the table,” said Scotland County Nursing Home District Board Secretary Lana Mc Robert.
The community response to the meeting was overwhelming. The Memphis Democrat live streamed video of the meeting on the NEMOnews Media Group Facebook page, which hosted nearly 170 viewers for the community comments portion of the meeting lasting approximately one hour 50 minutes.
The business portion of the meeting was also live streamed online, which lasted approximately 50 minutes.
A Town Hall Meeting hosted by Dist. 18 Missouri State Senator Cindy O’Laughlin earlier the same day is also available online. Sen. O’Laughlin’s meeting was held at the Boyer Center in Memphis and lasted one hour 53 minutes echoing much of the same dismay, anger and sadness over the closure of the Care Center.
The Memphis Democrat has made these videos available to the public both on our Facebook page and on YouTube, which can be viewed more easily on televisions and allows for computer generated closed captioning, as some of the comments are hard to hear very well.
These videos can easily be found on memphisdemocrat. com.