LONG BEACH - Following the announcement that Life Care Centers of America will close Ocean View Convalescent Center [OVCC] on March 31, Peninsula residents spoke with Long Beach City Council members Monday night to air their grievances and concerns.

Certified Long Term Care Ombudsman Jan Worrell told city councilors that she couldn't understand how there would be a lack of demand for a nursing home on the Peninsula, where most residents are retired. She asked that the mayor and city officials tell any interested corporations that there really is a need for nursing home services. She also stated that there are other skilled nursing facilities on the Peninsula that for an unknown reason were not on Life Care's list of recommended relocation sites.

Worrell later explained that the move will be difficult on the residents, most of whom need stability and some who are mentally disabled.

Sydney Stevens, whose mother has been a resident at OVCC for five years, said she was "blindsided" by the closure news and expressed disappointment in not knowing about the facility's management troubles and low ratings.

Wolfgang Mack, who also has a relative at OVCC, felt the facility should be maintained or resurrected. He suggested that the city, county or a local church consider maintaining the building.

"It's needed because it's a care facility, a rehabilitation facility and also an employer - for a lot of them it is a desperate situation. It was also a training facility," Mack noted.

Linda Logan of Golden Sands Assisted Living said many of her residents are eventually transferred to OVCC, where she can still keep in touch with them. Logan urged the public to write to local representatives and congressmen about the proposed funding cuts that would affect healthcare and similar facilities. Mayor Bob Andrew stated that the city of Long Beach has already sent letters to the appropriate government representatives.

Andrew, City Administrator Gene Miles and Councilman Ralph Moore stated that they had met with county commissioners to look for solutions to the problem. A committee comprised of local city and healthcare representatives has been developed to work directly with Life Care and determine what options are available for a nursing home to remain on the Peninsula.

Miles told the audience that the Peninsula has a very skilled and capable hospital that is helping them look at alternatives. "Hopefully if you don't give up and we don't give up, then maybe we'll get [to a solution]."

"We're not in the healthcare business, we don't know what we're doing," Moore said on behalf of the city. "But we do have some really smart people on that committee ..."

Andrew agreed and described the issue as "uncharted ground," but explained that Life Care is willing to partner up and provide 70 license beds and the building's owner is still interested in renting out the facility.

Council member Gordon Zuern added that just because OVCC's doors will be shut, the need and families' concerns will still be around.

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