- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials have decided to permanently close an aging state-run nursing home where water problems earlier this year forced the relocation of residents to other facilities.

Health and Social Services officials confirmed Tuesday that the Emily P. Bissell Hospital near Wilmington will close.

In February, the 48 residents of the 84-bed facility were moved after months of problems with the hot water system culminated in a complete boiler failure.

Two other boilers provide heat to the building and hot water to the kitchen, but officials said at the time that it could take as long as six months to replace the failed hot water system.

The hospital was founded in the early 1900s, offering treatment services for people suffering from tuberculosis.

State officials said the decision to close the hospital was based on declining populations in all DHSS long-term care facilities, and the desire by most of the former Bissell residents to remain in their current locations. When asked in July, only one-third of residents and family members said they wanted to return to Bissell, officials said.

Officials said the 143 staff members who worked at Bissell have moved to other locations within DHSS, primarily the Governor Bacon Health Center, the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill and the Delaware Psychiatric Center. Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said the closing of Bissell will not result in any layoffs.

With more Delawareans wanting to remain in their homes and connected to their communities as they age, Landgraf said populations at the three state long-term care facilities have declined steadily, from 354 residents in fiscal 2009 to 209 today, a reduction of about 40 percent.

DHSS officials will begin evaluating proposed uses for the 50-acre Bissell facility over the next several months. Meanwhile, DHSS will use Bissell’s administrative space as temporary office space for other state employees.

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This story has been corrected to show the capacity of the facility is 84, not 102.

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