Nursing home closing its doors in Arlington

(Metro photo)

Last day set for Feb. 7

SIOUX FALLS – Yet another South Dakota nursing home is closing its doors, and this time it’s in Arlington.

Avantara Arlington has announced its upcoming closure. As with other recent nursing home closures, the primary factors are a combination of the ongoing underfunding of Medicaid, the current staffing crisis, and costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Avantara Arlington has also provided a formal written “Notice of Closure” to the South Dakota Office of Licensure and Certification, in addition to providing written notice to each resident and their designated point of contact. Avantara Arlington’s last day of operation will be Feb. 7.

This marks the seventh nursing home closure this calendar year. Over the past six years, there have been 16 closures. Communities where closures have occurred include Elk Point, Armour, Salem, Lennox, Clear Lake, Ipswich, Custer, Hudson, Sioux Falls, Huron, Madison, Mobridge, Tripp, Bryant, and Rosholt.

“It was a difficult decision to close Avantara Arlington,” said Connie Ortega on behalf of Avantara Arlington. “Unfortunately, the lack of staffing resources, Medicaid underfunding, and the continued impact of COVID-19 created an environment where we can no longer keep our doors open.”

“We were honored to serve an incredible community who provided great support to both our residents and staff, especially during the pandemic,” Ortega said. “Our hardworking, dedicated staff at Avantara Arlington went above and beyond in their care of our residents, and they richly deserve to be recognized. They are true heroes, and we’ll be working closely with them and our residents through the closure of Avantara Arlington.”

“Many nursing homes have now gone from crisis to catastrophe,” said Mark B. Deak, executive director of the South Dakota Health Care Association. “Between longstanding Medicaid underfunding, the ongoing staffing crisis, and costs from COVID, nursing homes are facing unprecedented pressures. South Dakota communities where these closures have occurred are permanently losing access to a vitally important service for the elderly and disabled.”

South Dakota’s Medicaid reimbursement rates are below those of all our neighboring states. A recent report indicated that Medicaid reimbursement only covers 70.5% of the costs of care and recommended an investment of $62.5 million to bring the Medicaid reimbursement closer to covering the costs of care.

A significant majority (54%) of the total resident population in South Dakota nursing homes relies on Medicaid to pay for their care. In addition to the closures, this disparity fuels staffing challenges, including difficulty hiring caregivers and high turnover among nursing home staff. Improving ongoing Medicaid reimbursement is the most important step that must be taken to stop the closure crisis, according to the health care association.