Wyoming moves to take over 2 troubled nursing homes

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Department of Health is taking over temporary management of troubled nursing homes in Rock Springs and Saratoga, state officials announced Friday.

Heath Department Director Tom Forslund said the state is assigning managers to both facilities to work with existing staff. He said the state intends to move the 49 residents in Rock Springs and 20 residents in Saratoga to other facilities in an orderly, safe fashion.

"Our paramount concern is the safety and health of the residents in these facilities," Gov. Matt Mead said in a prepared statement. "I have directed Tom Forslund and the Department of Health to take action to ensure these residents remain safe until appropriate arrangements can be made."

Forslund said Deseret Health Group of Bountiful, Utah, gave the state notice within the last week that it intended to close both facilities. He said he found the closure plans inadequate, which raised concerns about residents' care and the company's ability to pay its employees.

"The rules call for a 60-day notice for voluntary closure of nursing homes, but the company's financial instability has made it clear this is not a normal situation and the company cannot meet its obligations to these residents," Forslund said.

Regulators in Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska also have said they're taking over nursing homes the company operated in those states in response to similar closure notices. Attempts to reach company officials Friday were unsuccessful.

Forslund said state officials have heard from some parties possibly interested in acquiring the Wyoming nursing home facilities.

"We as the department and the state cannot sit around and wait for the potential to occur," he said.

The state will evaluate whether any laws or regulations have been violated as it works to resolve the issue, Forslund said.

He said he can't say what it will cost the state to administer the facilities or how long state management will last, but the state will keep an accounting of its costs and will take in the usual revenue from the nursing homes' operations.

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