Elderly residents told they have to leave Tybee nursing home

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. – Residents at Tybee Nursing Home were told they needed to leave Thursday.  The company that manages the facility, New Beginnings filed for bankruptcy in January.  Ironically, attorneys for New Beginnings officials were in bankruptcy court in Tennessee the same time residents were having their belongings packed.

We saw several elderly people being escorted from the Oceanside Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center and then being put onto vans>

Four other Georgia nursing homes operated by New Beginnings have closed in the past several months.

A spokesman from the Georgia Department of Community Health said inspectors were on the way to Tybee to confirm what is happening.

We checked the facility’s rating and found its overall and health inspection ratings to be well below average. In both categories the facility received one star out of five. Poor inspections lead to a loss of Medicare and Medicaid money, which appears to be exactly what happened in the case of the Tybee facility.

An email from Terry Walker at New Beginnings (which was received at 6:15 p.m. Thursday) said “the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a notice of their intent to terminate the agreement at Oceanside back near the first part of May due to regulatory issues we have not been able to work out with the Dept of Community Health.  We have tried unsuccessfully through appeal and legal measures to prevent the termination from happening.”

Walker’s email went on to say “Oceanside is a facility that is more than 40 years old and requires a great deal of maintenance and repair. The physical plant and environmental issues are due largely to the age of the building. We do not own the facility. We are a management company that leases the building from the owner.  We have spent more than $250,000 in the last 3 months and a great deal more than that over the last year. We have operated the building for less than 3 years. We had the intentions of continuing to make improvements and renovate but are not able to keep the facility open.  We have attempted without success over the last several months to work with the owner to transition the operation to another operator.”

Bankruptcy records from the federal court in Tennessee listed hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to vendors and other debtors by New Beginnings.

In February (one month after bankruptcy was filed) a Tennessee newspaper reported that the head of New Beginnings Trent Tolbert “had paid himself a salary of $36,000 per month while driving a company leased Porsche.”

Walker’s email did not address questions I submitted regarding how the bankruptcy affected the Tybee facility’s closing. But he did say “the care and safety of the residents at Oceanside has always been our mission.  There were no issues with the care at Oceanside that lead to the termination, just the physical environment issues.”

Walker also said that “the 60 residents we had here and their responsible parties (were notified) of the process of relocating the residents.  Most have been able to stay in the county.  We will be able to retain many of the employees at another location but not all of them.”

Walker did not indicate how many employees worked at Tybee or when all the residents will be moved.

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