Burlingame Long Term Care Center to close

January 6, 2012 7:44:45 PM PST
The San Mateo County health care system wants to shut down its long term care center, because the building is old and substandard and, the county is facing a big drop in state health funds. It is a difficult decision for health care executives, it means patients have to find new homes and nearly 200 people could be laid off.

San Mateo Medical Center CEO Susan Ehrlich, M.D., said closing the Burlingame Long Term Care Center was a very painful decision.

It has been around for almost 50 years, but it is badly dated, unable to meet modern quality nursing according to the county. There are no wheel chair ramps at the entrance; wheelchair access is through a ramp in the underground parking garage.

"Inside the building there is a small courtyard that isn't really accessible to all of the residents, there are narrow stairways inside the building," said Ehrlich.

She says rain comes into the building on the west side and there isn't much personal space with three residents to a room.

"If it wasn't for the staff, you'd notice that, but the staff is so good that they help you through the day and things are fine," said Bob, who's lived at the center for seven years.

Erlich says they will not close until they have found appropriate places to move everyone and they will try to relocate staff.

"It will inevitably mean layoffs. We're working very hard to inform the staff about the situation," said Erlich.

Regardless, that is unacceptable to the California Nurses Association which represents some of the people who work here.

A spokesman for the California Nurses Association told ABC7, "The closure is tragic. We will be advocating to keep it open. The county leases the building. An outside expert and the grand jury have recommended not renewing the lease. All of this is compounded by a 23-percent cut in reimbursement for nursing care from the state.

"We're not recommending it stay open," said Erlich.

The Board of Supervisors will decide at its February 14 meeting whether or not to terminate the lease that is scheduled to end in the middle of 2013. That's when the facility will close or when every last patient is gone.