Millcreek seniors face eviction from assisted living facility

Dec 20, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: 7:14 pm

MILLCREEK — Dozens of elderly residents are facing uncertainty at an assisted living facility in Millcreek.

On Friday, residents at The Haven at Millcreek received letters with a “30-day notice of closure.” The closure impacts up to 43 residents. Multiple staff members said the announcement blindsided the 30 to 36 employees who will be laid off by the Jan. 15 deadline.

“That’s the worst thing because it’s right in the middle of the holidays,” said Errol Lawrence, an impacted resident at the assisted living center. “I’ve been here for 15 years. This is my home, and now we have to leave.”

Errol Lawrence, one of the many residence at The Haven at Millcreek that face eviction.

Errol Lawrence, one of the many residents at The Haven at Millcreek who face eviction. (KSL TV)

Lawrence said many of the people at the facility are friends and is sad he will not see them anymore.

James Van Roosendaal lives next door and knows several residents through his church community. He’s been digging into the matter and heard from the city officials that ownership is selling the property. Roosendaal said he saw the transition when the property recently changed ownership, and he was surprised to learn that the residents were being evicted this time.

“We saw this 18 months ago. There was an ownership change, and we didn’t see any change in service or care,” Roosendaal said. “It’s curious to see another operator that is going to come in and operate the assisted living center, but they are not keeping any of the existing residents, so it just raises red flags for me about what are there other motives or are there other things that are at play here that we don’t know about?”

James Van Roosendaal speaking to KSL TV's Garna Mejia about the closure.

James Van Roosendaal speaking to KSL TV’s Garna Mejia about the closure. (KSL TV)

The Haven at Millcreek is owned by a company based in St. George operating under the name Millcreek Haven, LLC. They have an additional property in Hurricane.

Legally, The Haven at Millcreek is within its right as a private business to sell the property, according to Millcreek City officials.

Ownership responds

KSL spoke with The Haven’s co-owner, Brad Oliverson, on Tuesday evening. Oliverson provided the following statement to KSL on Wednesday morning:

Since purchasing the Millcreek building a year and a half ago, we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve the building both structurally and staffing wise. Our goal was to provide a comfortable home for the residents. With the difficult economic times and not being able to increase rental rates proportionately, we were forced to look at selling or closing the community.

When the contract to purchase the building was completed last week, we began the process of transitioning on Friday. We are required to give a 30 day written notice, which we did as soon as we knew. We have negotiated with four nearby communities that will offer move-in specials to our residents which, in most cases, won’t cost them anything more. These offers were presented with the letter and many have already made their decision. We will continue to be involved in this process and will do so until everyone has found an acceptable place. We also realize that thirty days might not be enough time for some with more needs, which we have allowed for. We will not move someone out without a place to go.

The Buyer, will be providing a much needed service to the community. They are reviewing resumes and will be speaking with our current employees hoping to retain many of them.

–  The Haven at Millcreek

Financial issues

According to Oliverson, the Millcreek location has been under financial duress for several months. When an offer came to sell, he felt it was the best course of action.

“This isn’t how we wanted this to end. There is never a good time of year for this to happen,” Oliverson said.

Oliverson cited problems collecting payments for about half of the facility’s residents who rely on Medicaid funding through its New Choices Waiver program.

“At one point, over $140,000 were outstanding,” he said.

The notice of closure at the The Haven at Millcreek front desk.

The notice of closure at the The Haven at Millcreek front desk. (KSL TV)

Even so, Oliverson said the Medicaid funding is not enough to cover a beneficiary’s costs of living, and were it not for the sale, the facility would have been forced to evict some of its residents with Medicaid coverage.

“When we opened, we decided to accept New Choice residents because we wanted to give back,” Oliverson said. “[But], the business is not sustainable the way it is now, with [funding for] new choice Medicaid residents,”

He said most assisted living facilities do not accept New Choice patients because they will lose money.

New leadership

Switchpoint, an enterprise focused on providing resources to people facing housing insecurity, is the interested buyer. It plans to use the facility as permanent housing for legally disabled adults who are homeless or at risk of becoming so, according to Millcreek officials.

“Swtichpoint intends to continue operating the property as an assisted living facility with 43 beds. They are not changing the character of the property,” said Francis Xavier Lilly, Assistant City Manager, via email.

KSL spoke with David Dangerfield, President of Switchpoint’s Board of Directors. Dangerfield confirmed an offer had been made to purchase the property but said they were not involved in the decision to vacate The Haven by Jan. 15.

“We have had no conversations with the owners relative to the patients or staff there,” Dangerfield said.

Dangerfield also said they would welcome interested employees in applying for a position under Switchpoint’s ownership. Switchpoint is based in St. George and has previously worked with the city of Millcreek.

“We worked closely with Switchpoint a couple of years ago when a temporary homeless shelter was opened for the winter in Millcreek. We developed a close working relationship with Switchpoint and their staff and were pleased with their handling of the facility and responsiveness to our questions and concerns. They were very professional, and we feel confident that if they do purchase the property and bring their plans to us, the close relationship would continue,” said Rita Lund, Millcreek Communications Director, in an email to KSL.

Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini said he plans on holding a meeting with the community and neighbors once the sale is finalized to address their questions and concerns.

Lawrence said his social worker is scrambling to find him a new home that can provide the assistance he needs.

“I mean, 30 days to find another residence is not enough time. I think we should’ve been told the minute they found out that this was going to happen,” Lawrence said.

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Millcreek seniors face eviction from assisted living facility