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Assisted living home to shut down in April

South Boston News / March 23, 2020
After decades in business, Boston Commons on North Main Street in South Boston will close April 11.

Staff members at the assisted living center received word of the shutdown via a phone call Thursday from ownership. One of the partners who was reached for comment Friday said the closure is due to the facility’s business struggles.

“It was mainly just financial,” said Dr. Kaustubh S. Yadwadkar, a Washington, D.C. radiologist who owns Boston Commons in partnership with Dr. Kumar Rupesh, a Harrisburg, Pa. internist. “We’re just not profitable and the situation is not improving.”

Yadwadkar said the decision to shutter Boston Commons was made before the coronavirus pandemic surfaced, but that “has certainly made things worse at the end.

“We’ve been struggling for a while,” he said.

Yadwadkar said the facility employs about 15 full-time staff and another eight to ten part-time workers. Roughly around 20 residents will have to find a new home with the impending closure. “We’re working with the state and families to get them to different facilities,” Yadwadkar said. “It’s definitely unfortunate.”

The stately Spanish Colonial Revival Style building — one-time home of South Boston Hospital — will be put up for sale, he said. The physician partners purchased the business nearly four years ago.

A former employee of Boston Commons said the facility has struggled to attract residents in recent months, after raising its senior population to as many as 40 people at various times. The employee, who asked not to be identified, said the home needed around 30 residents “just to pay the bills.

“That place was making money when we got to 40 [residents],” said the employee, who pegged the current population at roughly half of that number now. The home is licensed for 50 occupants.

The employee credited the home’s late administrator, William “Billy” McGhee of Nathalie, for Boston Commons’ success.

“He loved the residents,” the employee said. “He would take them shopping. He took one gentleman to his gravesite and would weed-eat [the plot] while the man watched. They just loved him …. He’d do anything for them. He’d do everything for them.”

McGhee left Boston Commons in June 2019, some three years after the business came under new ownership. “From there it went downhill,” the former employee said. McGhee died Feb. 28 at age 59.

The impending shutdown has thrown families into a lurch, especially with coronavirus-related precautions being put in place that may slow the admissions process for some elderly residents in need of new homes.

Julia Burchett of Sutherlin, whose father-in-law is a resident of Boston Commons, said she and her family are worried about transitioning to a new facility during the current health crisis.

“It’s not a good time to be sending all these people out and moving them to a different home,” she said. “People have got to be outside. They could be exposed.”

Burchett has been in contact with two assisted living facilities in the Danville area to see if they can accept her father-in-law, who she said is 83 or 84 years old. “They both said they would accept them, but they have a process to go through,” she said.

If the move isn’t completed by April 11, Burchette said, she doesn’t know how she’ll provide shelter and care in the interim.

Neither she nor a sister-in-law living in the Callands area have room in their homes or are in good enough health to take on the burden of caring for an elderly relative, Burchett said. The family has discussed moving him to Florida where he could live in an assisted living facility there, but Florida state government has imposed a deadline of April 11 for new resident admissions. She expressed doubt that such a transition could be completed in time.

Another family member who lives in the Lakeland, Fla. area had offered to find a home for her father-in-law, but that plan was thrown off-track by the coronavirus. The family member, a sister-in-law, drove up from Florida with her husband to go to Boston Commons, but had to turn around in Greensboro, said Burchett.

The reason: they learned from their daughter, a nurse, that she had come into contact with co-workers who were exposed to the coronavirus. The woman, Burchett’s niece, has gone into two-week quarantine, along with another family member who also works as a nurse.

“They turned around in Greensboro to go back to Florida,” said Burchett, referring to her sister-in-law and her husband. “They didn’t stop other to go to the bathroom.

“What if they had come in two hours later?” she continued. “They could have exposed everyone at Boston Commons to the coronavirus. It could have been a disaster.”

Burchett said she has contacted the health department and state and federal elected officials to see if anything can be done to forestall the closing, but has heard nothing back in return.

She also reached out to the staff at Boston Commons to get a phone number to reach out to the owners. “The staff there is great. They have been so good with my father-in-law,” said Burchett.

As for trying to reach the owners, “they told me good luck because they’re not even answering their calls.”

UPDATE: In a phone call Monday after this article was published, Boston Commons co-owner Dr. Kaustubh S. Yadwadkar took exception to comments saying he has not been responsive to the staff or families of the assisted living facility. Instead, said Yadwadkar, he has been in constant contact with acting administrator Vicky Meadows, who has been designated as the contact personfor questions and concerns. "Last time I spoke to her [Meadows] she had spoken to every family member and sent them a certified letter informing them of the decision," he said. Communications from the staff also are being routed to Meadows, Yadwadkar added.

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