August 30, 2013

St. Joseph's renovating to get fewer MaineCare users

The Portland diocese says the care facility it sponsors needs more private payers to stay financially healthy – bad news for some facing discharge.

By Kelley Bouchard kbouchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland acknowledged Thursday that the assisted-living unit at St. Joseph's Rehabilitation & Residence will be renovated to attract more private-pay residents and help offset the cost of residents covered by MaineCare.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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Both of Gagne's parents are MaineCare recipients who have lived at St. Joseph's for about two years. Gagne and other family members say they have been treated with disrespect and received conflicting information about the timeline for the closure, the reason for the renovations and the likelihood that residents will have to apply for readmission.

Gagne noted the diocese's lack of involvement in what he described as the "shock and awe campaign" that residents and family members have experienced. He was further upset when the diocese failed to respond to the Press Herald's repeated requests for comment on stories published earlier this week.

"The diocese's absence of solicited comment is extremely disappointing," Gagne said. "It's sad that they seem to have distanced themselves from this business decision and from their very own flock. They should be right in there, rolling up their sleeves and dealing with this head-on."

Twomey said the 10-member board of directors has been talking about renovating St. Joseph's for decades and tried to minimize residents' anxiety. He said it would be impossible to renovate the unit in phases because walls will be moved and bathrooms will be torn up with jackhammers.

Twomey described the discharge process as upsetting under the best circumstances, and acknowledged that the board failed to anticipate the full range of reactions and concerns of residents, family members and the public.

"These are people -- it's not an easy decision," Twomey said. "The church is not cold and callous. Quite frankly, it was reassuring to me that the board had such concern for the residents in this process. Is it a perfect process? Probably not."

 

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

 

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