The North Bend Eagle



Birchwood hoping to regain license

by Nathan Arneal
Published 4/3/19

Birchwood Manor, North Bend’s senior and long-term care facility, has had its license suspended by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services after its residents were moved during the flood of two and a half weeks ago.

A hearing on April 23 will determine whether Birchwood Manor regains its license. Owner Pamela Quinn said she is confident Birchwood will regain its license and its residents – currently spread out among several area nursing homes – will be able to come home.

Birchwood’s 46 residents were evacuated to Snyder Friday, March 15, as floodwaters entered North Bend. Fourteen residents with advanced needs were sent to the Dodge nursing home. The rest stayed in the Snyder Auditorium.

After two nights in Snyder, Quinn and administrator Kelly Seitz sought to move the residents back to North Bend, where Birchwood was untouched by floodwater. Quinn said she was in touch with DHHS officials.

“We evaluated everything,” Quinn said, “and coming back was our best plan as far as serving our residents.”

Around that time, Birchwood administration learned that there was no water or sewer access in North Bend. Quinn said there is a contingency plan in place for such a situation using bottled water and waterless commodes. She said the plan is reviewed and approved by DHHS annually.

Quinn said a DHHS official told her she could go back to North Bend if she received an OK from North Bend emergency manager and city officials. After receiving that OK, Quinn called DHHS back.

“As long as we understood the obligations of our license to provide for the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents, then we could return,” Quinn said.

The residents did return Sunday night. Quinn said they had enough supplies and water for three full days and deliveries arranged for Tuesday.

Monday morning Quinn was told by DHHS officials that Birchwood could voluntarily evacuate, or it could be involuntarily evacuated. Quinn was also served with documents stating DHHS had declared a state of emergency and residents were being removed because they were in an unsafe setting and that Bichwood’s license had been revoked.

While Birchwood residents were being moved to other facilities by DHHS, Quinn said a number of people were transported three and a half hours away by medically untrained personnel in minivans that were not handicap accessible without notifying family.

“All of the residents were crying,” Quinn said. “Many were holding on to the staff and not letting go. It was truly a traumatic and emotionally devastating setting for our residents that they should not be put in. And our staff was forced to participate because the directive was coming from those who determine their license.”

As a result, Quinn filed 16 counts of abuse against DHSS.


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