Seniors had no place to go

To the Journal editors:

On June 30 a senior residence in Negaunee- Woodland – closed its doors for good. The facility was owned by Bell Memorial Hospital of Ishpeming.

When the facility opened 14 years before, Woodland was an assisted living facility. About one year before it closed, it became a ‘Senior Residence’ and was no longer advertised as assisted living.

There were 12 residents left in Woodland when the notice was given on May 15 that they had 45 days in which to find a ‘new home’. For most individuals that would be no problem. However, the residents ranged in age from 68 to 95, and were in varying stages of need. This had been their home for many years, as many of them had been at Woodland for as long as six years.

While all of this was done in a very legal and proper way, it seems no consideration was given to the enormity of this ordeal to the residents. The residents had been told that there would be assistance in finding new housing – this amounted to a listing of facilities in the UP. There was a distinct disruption on the lives of those involved, who didn’t nearly have the time they needed to comprehend what was happening and make preparations. The overall affect was one of confusion and negativity.

To say that assumptions were made by the facility owners is a vast understatement.

The residents trusted Bell Memorial Hospital, and the fact that there was no forewarning of what was to come until the 45 day notice meant for some that they had been betrayed and they became embittered. The motivation seemed purely financial.

In Marquette County there are only two other assisted living facilities with waiting lists from 17 to 27, and there are five nursing care facilities- most of which also have waiting lists.

While this is now all over and done with, the residents who had formed a community at Woodland and wanted nothing more than to live out their lives in a place where they would be taken care of, along with their friends and neighbors, now are scattered all over the UP, from Iron Mountain to Calumet.

Their plight needs to be noted by all of us, as we remind ourselves that we – corporate and individual – need to be better guardians of our elderly.