The Pierre Care and Rehabilitation Center, 950 E. Park, has not been listed by Black Hills Receiver LLC as a skilled nursing home it wants to close, as it is asking a judge to allow at similar facilities in Mobridge and Madison, to help stanch the red ink amounting to millions of dollars in losses, according to court documents.

But the nearly $1 million a month it’s been losing since taking over the 19 facilities in the state on May 1 might require other closings, Black Hills Receiver LLC said in a recent motion in state circuit court in Pierre.

The Receiver put out a news release Nov. 14 announcing its moves to close the two facilities.

Black Hills Receiver’s request to close the Mobridge and Madison skilled nursing homes will be heard by state Judge Patricia DeVaney on Dec. 20 in Pierre. Black Hills says if it can’t close the two sites, financial losses at all the homes might result in even more trouble.

It all comes only six months after Devaney took the 19 facilities from Skyline and put them in the care of Black Hills Receiver.

Phil Preston, who had been executive director of the Pierre facility, was “just transferred to Rapid City,” Tina Muller told the Capital Journal this week.

She is the new executive director of the Pierre Care and Rehabilitation center and she directed all questions about the facility to PR spokeswoman Luneborg or Susan McLaughlin with Trifecta in Dallas.

Skyline Healthcare LLC of New Jersey, a family-owned firm, was forced out in April by DeVaney’s order that also named Black Hills LLC the receiver to take over.

In late April in a dramatic email filed as a court affidavit in the civil lawsuit, Debbie Menzenberg of Black Hills LLC, then a subsidiary of Skyline, asked for “URGENT” help from several people, including the state health department, saying Skyline was not talking to her and that water and electricity were going to be shut off at some of the nursing homes, and food supplies were nearly gone.

She received a “disconnect notice” for May 8 for the electricity at the Pierre nursing home, Menzenberg said in the email filed in court April 30.

Skyline officials were telling her to start discharging patients from the nursing homes, she said.

That email, and other evidence, led to a lawsuit filed in state court in Pierre asking that the state appoint a receiver to take over the 19 nursing homes from Skyline; a move that Judge DeVaney approved.

Now Black Hills has decided at least two of the nursing homes aren’t making money and can’t make money under current conditions. Last month Black Hills LLC receiver announced it was in the best interests of residents, “under the circumstances, to carefully plan for and pursue closure of two skilled nursing facilities.” The ones in Mobridge and Madison which have been losing the most money, Black Hills says.

The earliest the two homes could close is Jan. 31, 2019, according to the news release from Black Hills’ public relations spokesman, Kelli Luneborg, of Trifecta Public Strategies in Dallas, Texas.

Luneborg told the Capital Journal this week that only the two nursing homes, in Mobridge and Madison, have been named by Black Hills Receiver as targeted for closing.

Derrick Haskins, spokesman for the state health department, told the Capital Journal that in order to close, “a nursing facility must provide the Department of Health, residents and their families with 60 days’ notice and ensure that all patients find alternative placement prior to closure. The department of Human Services Division of Long-term Services and Supports also helps with the process to ensure an orderly transition of residents to other care facilities. In this case, since the facility is also in receivership, Black Hills Receiver LLC will also need permission from the (state’s) Sixth Circuit Court.”

Judge DeVaney recently set Dec. 20 for a hearing in a Pierre courtroom on Black Hills Receiver LLC’s request to close the two nursing homes in Mobridge and Madison. The hearing earlier had been set for Nov. 28, according to court documents.

Haskins said the health department is a party to the suit being heard on Dec. 20 in court.

The Pierre facility and most if not all of the other 18 Skyline/Black Hills facilities in the state formerly were known as Golden Living centers.

Last spring when Black Hills LLC was named the receiver, Wanda Prince, a registered nurse who ran Golden Living, was put in charge of Black Hills Receiver and the 19 South Dakota facilities.

According to recent court documents, Prince is president of Black Hills Receiver LLC based in Frisco, Texas.

The 19 facilities are in Arlington, Armour, Clark,Groton, Ipswich, Lake Norden, Madison, two in Milbank, Mobridge, Pierre, four in Rapid City, Redfield, Salem, Sioux Falls and Watertown.

According to its motion filed Nov. 13, Black Hills Receiver says it’s short of cash and losing money each day of operation.

“If not addressed in a timely manner, the unsustainable operational losses could result in issues not just at the facilities that have the biggest financial issues, but also across the receivership, as the facilities with significant losses could require the use of resources and time and effort that are needed to provide care at other facilities. Permission to close facilities will allow Receiver to make considered decisions as to how to maintain facility operations receivership-wide.”

The two facilities targeted, in Mobridge and Madison, “together, are estimated to have a net cash loss of nearly $1.2 million for the period” from May 1 until Dec. 31, 2018, according to Black Hills’ motion.

When it took over May 1, Black Hills Receiver found things in bad shape, according to its motion.

Skyline apparently had canceled health insurance for nursing facilities employees, even though it kept collecting premium funding from employees’ paychecks.

Black Hills Receiver worked to stabilize things and make sure patients were cared for, facilities had the supplies needed and employees were paid, according to the court filing.

But Black Hills Receiver has not been paid any rent for the facilities’ use, nor any fee, as is often paid, for acting as the receiver for the operation of the homes, it says.

The result is that Black Hills Receiver has seen the facilities’ total operational losses since May 1 mount to what will be an estimated $7.7 million by the end of this year, according to the motion filed last month.

The two facilities in Mobridge and Madison have been losing the most money.

Finding and keeping employees in the two communities is one reason for the big deficits there, Black Hills Receiver says.

Damage to the Mobridge facility from a severe summer storm also increases losses there, Black Hills Receiver says.

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