(Delmarvanow.com) -- Riverside Health System announced Tuesday it will close its nursing home in Parksley in October because of "multiple building issues," including recurrent flooding and a recent lightning strike that affected the fire panel.
The facility's closing affects 89 long-term residents and 128 employees.
"It was a very difficult decision," said Bill Downey, president and chief executive officer of Riverside Health System.
"The facility is very old. It is very dated. It had a severe water problem that we worked through to keep our residents and team members safe — but on top of that, we have continued to have issues with flooding as well as ... recently, the building was struck by lightning that caused a problem with our fire panel," Downey said.
"When you take all of those together, it came to the decision that it was in the best interest of the residents to close that antiquated facility," he said.
On Sunday, July 16, a power fluctuation in the area caused the well pump motor to burn out at the facility, according to a statement released by spokeswoman Sally Schreiber.
After the motor was replaced, the well was flushed and a water sample was sent to the Division of Consolidated Laboratories in Virginia.
During the past four weeks, Riverside has been testing and flushing the water supply to achieve two negative tests.
No health issues have been associated with the water supply problems, according to the statement.
The company in the meantime deployed its emergency filtration trailer for kitchen work, showering and clothes washing. The trailer produces 30,000 gallons of potable water a day.
Additionally, all residents have been drinking bottled water and the facility has been using disposable dishes.
In the most recent flooding incident, a local fire department came out to assist after water came into the building, said Ed Heckler, Riverside vice president of lifelong health.
Downey said employees at the Parksley facility "have done a phenomenal job" in the past six weeks as the health care organization dealt with problems there.
"Ultimately as we came to this decision, we took into account what would be the best long-term solution for the residents at Parksley," he said.
Riverside will continue to operate Riverside Shore Rehabilitation Center until Oct. 21, according to a press release.
The health care organization will work until then to find placements with an appropriate level of care for 89 long-term care residents.
There are about 35 beds available at present in other Eastern Shore of Virginia facilities — although that number changes from day to day, Heckler said.
There also are beds elsewhere within Riverside's Lifelong Health division, Downey said.
Additionally, Riverside has asked the state if it would be willing to allow residents with Medicaid to go to Maryland Eastern Shore facilities.
"We have not gotten a final answer back from the state, but that is certainly something that we would be working on," Downey said.
An additional dozen residents are anticipated to be discharged to their homes before the Parksley facility closes.
Riverside is meeting with employees to help them find employment either within the Riverside Health System or elsewhere, the release said.
Resume writing and interviewing skills support also will be offered.
Riverside has between 25 and 30 jobs open at its other Eastern Shore facilities, said John Peterman, vice president and administrator at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital.
Additionally, the company will provide relocation assistance for employees who take jobs at Riverside facilities elsewhere, Heckler said.
"The Riverside Shore Rehabilitation Center infrastructure has outlived its useful life expectancy," said Heckler.
Riverside's top priority "is to ensure the safe and appropriate transition of our residents," Downey said.
Riverside Health System has had a presence on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for eight years and opened the new Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital and Cancer Center in Onley in February.
It is not yet known what will become of the building in Parksley.
"We're looking at all of our options; we have not made any determination on that at this point," Downey said.
The former hospital building in Nassawadox cannot be used as a nursing home facility "because it is not licensed or built to code for a nursing facility," said Peter Glagola, Riverside spokesman.