For release September 14, 2006
Still Waters Community Elders Home to Close

CALUMET The board of directors of Still Waters Elders Home will close the facility October 1, 2006. The community-owned, non-profit home was built in 1982 and has served almost 800 residents. 

"We can no longer continue to operate Still Waters on a break-even basis," said board chair Rod Johnson. "It is most unfortunate and it was a very difficult decision. I would like to thank our caring staff, the many volunteers and the contributing public who have helped to make Still Waters a very special place." 

The closing will affect 15 full-time and 16 part-time employees. 

"We have always, without exception, accepted any resident regardless of ability to pay," Johnson said. "Still Waters remains one of the few assisted living homes in the area with this policy. In the past, the state has required all homes to take all residents regardless of ability to pay. That is no longer the case." 

Still Waters has seen an increasing percentage of residents needing Medicaid help. Many newer assisted living homes will not accept such residents. Some who need assisted living care can pay their own way or have private insurance policies to pay for such care. Others rely on Medicaid to fund a portion of their financial obligation and Medicaid reimbursements fall short of the actual cost of serving those residents. "Our reimbursements from the state have not kept up with our costs," Johnson said. 

"We provide a quality facility, quality food and quality care," Johnson said. "But we now have 75 percent of our residents requiring some financial help. These people deserve the same level of quality care as anyone else. We have reduced staffing levels to the bare minimum and cut the budget to the bone. We just cannot afford to operate a quality program any longer." 

Another major factor in the decision to close is Still Waters, which was built to serve up to 70 people, has seen a decline in the number of residents in recent years. 

Still Waters grew out of the Laurium Elders Home, which was established in 1945. The original home was operated as a mission of the Laurium Apostolic Lutheran Church. 

The Still Waters facility opened in 1982, when Laurium Elders Home, Inc., became a community-based organization. Rural Development, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, provided a $1.4 million loan to build the facility 

A $227,000 Rural Development loan in 1999 provided for roof repairs and remodeling required to maintain state licensing requirements. 

Johnson said the Still Waters staff and the state of Michigan will assist residents and their families to find alternate accommodations and care. The building will be turned over to Rural Development, the mortgage holder. 

"This is a sad day for our community," Johnson said. "But, on the other hand, we have also made a significant difference in the lives of more than 800 people over the past 24 years. I feel pretty good about that."

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