The Landing Closure Sparks Outcry for More Compassion
Joyce Gantt, aged 82, had been living at the Landing of Silver Spring for just 13 days when the management called a meeting to deliver the unexpected news that the assisted-living and memory-care facility would be closing in 45 days.
Her family had put in considerable effort to ensure that the Landing would be a suitable home for Gantt. They had paid a $3,000 community fee, covered rent through October, and spent thousands of dollars on moving fees to get her settled in what they thought would be her permanent residence. Her son, Derrick Gantt-Bey, expressed his frustration, saying, “Why would they have us go through that entire process if they knew they were in the process of closing?” Gantt-Bey shared these thoughts in an interview, just days after the owners informed his mother and the 52 other residents that they had to vacate the facility by November 15.
As families rushed to find solutions, Montgomery County officials raised concerns about the state law that mandates a minimum notice of 45 days. They pointed out that demographic shifts are expected to strain a system that is already struggling to meet the demand, both nationally and within the county. The number of people over 65 in the county is projected to nearly double by 2040, making it clear that seniors and their families need more notice when a long-term care facility closes.
Leisure Care, the management company operating the Landing, initially informed residents through a letter, which directed families to a password-protected website for resources to aid with relocation. Unfortunately, the password provided did not work.
Omega Healthcare Investors and CommuniCare Health Services acquired the property from Columbia Wegman Acquisition, and they plan to transform it into a skilled nursing facility over the next year. Michael Juno, the vice president of operations for Leisure Care, explained that the building’s owner decided to sell due to financial instability over several years. While the company informed residents as soon as legally allowed, coinciding with the mandated 45 days, they did not clarify the specific law limiting advance notice to seniors. Juno acknowledged that this leaves a short timeframe for residents and their families to make crucial decisions. A spokesperson for the new building owners reiterated that they adhered to state law.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, along with council member Kristin Mink, voiced their support for changing Maryland law to provide more notice to seniors and their families when a long-term care facility closes. However, it’s important to note that the county will work with the state to provide some resources for relocation, but it doesn’t directly offer housing or services. Mink stated that she was working to connect residents with new spaces at similar facilities in and around Montgomery County, with a primary focus on ensuring continuity of care.
By Thursday, Juno reported that approximately one-quarter of the residents had found new living arrangements, and the company was in close contact with each resident and their family daily. However, some residents expressed dissatisfaction with Leisure Care’s efforts to assist them in finding new places to live, considering the situation a disaster. Concerns were raised about the quality of care potentially declining as staff faced unemployment in November and sought new jobs, prompting residents and their families to seek new accommodations as quickly as possible.
During this challenging transition, representatives from other assisted-living communities visited residents to share information about their facilities, and residents reminisced about the bonds they had formed and the activities they enjoyed at the Landing. It’s evident that they hold a deep affection for the place that they’ve come to call home.
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