Saying goodbye

Valley View Manor employees have one last meeting with management

Staff at Valley View Manor gathered on Tuesday in the facility's main dining room to receive instructions on pay and other issues from the facility's owners a week before the nursing home is scheduled to close.

"I want to thank you for staying until the end," said Heather Craig, regional vice president for Mariner Health Care, which owns Valley View Manor.

The last patient will be discharged by noon on Thursday, Craig said.

Employees will continue to be paid through Aug. 2 and also will be eligible to receive insurance and benefits through that time. The insurance company will then give employees the opportunity to continue with them.

According to Craig, some department heads will stay on at Valley View Manor through the end of next week.

"You have all done a commendable job," Craig said. "I wish this didn't have to happen."

If anyone wants to transfer to a sister institution, Mariner will try to find openings for those interested, Craig said.

The meeting lasted about a half an hour and ended with few dry eyes.

Employees can file for unemployment next week, according to Craig, and Mariner will not contest the claims. Mariner has provided a grief counselor for employees.

"There is nothing that I can do to make this any easier for you," Craig said. "Good luck to you in your future."

The future for residents at Valley View Manor means moving on to other area facilities.

Mary Jane Kitchens, resident care director for Walbridge Memorial Wing in Meeker, said the facility has received seven residents from Valley View Manor and will can take no more.

"We are very glad to have them here," Kitchens said. "I think that (having a nursing home in a community) is vital. I think that it is difficult for Craig and the families there to have to travel so many miles between towns."

Doak Walker Care Center in Steamboat Springs received three residents and will receive two more residents at its facility tomorrow.

"We were happy to have the admissions and the residents," said Carol Schaffer, director of nursing and administrator at Doak Walker. "I feel sorry for everyone there. I know how important having a nursing home is to a community."

The city of Craig, Moffat County and The Memorial Hospital have all expressed interest in trying to keep the nursing home open. But officials, who have called the facility critical to the community, have expressed frustration at dealing with Mariner Health Care, which owns Valley View Manor.

They have said Mariner has been difficult in returning telephone calls and turning over financial documents regarding the feasibility in taking over the nursing home.

The last of the Valley View Manor residents are scheduled to leave Thursday morning.

Liz King can be reached at 824-7031 or by email at eking@craigdailypress.com.

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