- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A Utah company is closing a Rock Springs nursing home, and staff and residents at another nursing home the company operates in Saratoga are bracing for possible similar news.

Deseret Health Group of Bountiful gave 60-day notice Friday to Wyoming regulators that it will close its Rock Springs operation.

The company has notified Kansas and Nebraska regulators of similar closings in those states, according to news reports.

Attempts to reach officials at the company’s Utah headquarters were unsuccessful on Wednesday. Telephone calls went unanswered.

Melissa Elliott, administrator of the Rock Springs nursing home, said she’s talking with other companies and trying to figure out a way to keep the facility open. She said it has 90 staff members and 58 residents.

“All the families are really concerned about us closing. They don’t want their mom and dad to have to move three hours away,” Elliott said. She said Deseret Health Group has operated the nursing home for the past two years.

Anita Mills is administrator of the Saratoga nursing home, which has 40 staff members and 25 residents. She said Wednesday she learned of the possible shutdown of her facility on Friday from a county commissioner who received word from the state.

Mills said company officials have told her Deseret Health Group is interested in finding a buyer for the Saratoga facility. She said she has informed the community about the situation.

“By Monday night, I realized it really looks like we’re closing, I wanted to give the residents and staff the heads-up,” Mills said. She said plans to move residents to other nursing facilities in Cheyenne and elsewhere unless she gets word quickly from corporate officials that they’ve found a buyer.

Mills said it would be tough on local residents to drive long distances to other facilities to visit their loved ones.

Mills said the staff has continued to work despite the uncertainty. “We’re all going to see it through until the end, until everybody’s gone,” she said.

Kim Deti, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Health, said Wednesday that officials with her agency, the Wyoming Department of Family Services and the state attorney general’s office are monitoring the situation to be sure Deseret Health Group meets its obligations.

“Our role is limited,” Deti said. “We’re going to monitor and make sure folks are being taken care of. But as far as deciding what happens or where, much of that gets decided by the company at whatever level it’s being involved, and by the local administrators and local community folks.”

In Kansas, KAKE-TV reports that the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services is taking control of the Deseret Health Group facility in southeast Wichita.

The television station quotes Agency Commissioner Joe Ewert as saying, “Deseret Health Group contacted us last week and indicated to us they were insolvent.”

The Lincoln Journal-Star in Nebraska reported this week that Deseret Health Group is closing three nursing homes in small towns in Nebraska.

The newspaper reported the company is closing the Rose Brook Care Center in Edgar, Logan Valley Manor in Lyons and the Ainsworth Care Center in Ainsworth. It stated the company closed the Exeter Care Center there in March.

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