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Columbus nursing home set to close come January

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Posted at 5:41 PM, Nov 13, 2022

COLUMBUS — At least seven nursing homes in the state have closed in 2022, and Beartooth Manor in Columbus is another following the trend. It’s set to close in 2023, all because of a lack of funding and staff shortages.

MTN spoke with a nurse named Kate at the facility. She said employees were told just last week that the nursing home was closing due to staffing shortages.

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“We’re competing with the types of business that we didn’t compete with before,” said Executive Director of the Montana Healthcare Association, Rose Hughes.

MTN spoke with Hughes back in August shortly after seven other nursing homes shut their doors.

“If you can earn 15 -20 dollars an hour in a restaurant, that might be an easier job than taking care of nursing home residents,” Hughes said.

Lantis Enterprises owns Beartooth Manor. Due to worker shortages, they employed 'agency staff,' which are employees that traveled to Columbus to work and are paid at a much higher rate.

The increased expense had made Beartooth Manor impossible to keep open.

MTN also spoke with David Trost, the president and CEO of St. John’s United back in August. He spoke about the struggles his facilities are experiencing.

“We’re paying some travelers to travel to Montana to serve us at a rate of $110 an hour,” Trost said.

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At least 36 residents at Beartooth Manor will be displaced and will need to find another nursing home to go to.

Kate said folks at the facility are emotional as some residents have lived there for over a decade.

“When you separate them from family, care will go down,” said Trost.

Many of the residents are local to the area, meaning they’ll have to look at other options in places like Billings, outside their hometowns.

But some have actually come from other nursing homes that have shut down and will need to start the process all over again.

And at least 10 employees at Beartooth Manor will need to find a new place to work. Kate said that the staff was expecting the closure, but she didn’t think it would come so soon.