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Friday, February 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Finding Nursing Home Care For Patients Increasingly Difficult

St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute can’t find rooms for some patients who are ready to leave the hospital. Those patients are often still on ventilators or using tracheal tubes. They still need help, but not the intensive help available at St. Luke’s.

Most need a nursing home with specialized care. But nursing homes in Spokane aren’t taking the patients. One was sent to Missoula. Two others will soon leave for Seattle.

“The nursing homes in this town will not accept them,” said Debbie Hanks, St. Luke’s administrator. “To be honest, I think it’s because of the expense of the care.”

The rehabilitation institute takes the sickest and won’t refuse anyone. Inpatient care is traditionally the most costly to provide, and outpatient care is seen as more lucrative.

Now, St. Luke’s is trying to compete with for-profit companies trying to carve off outpatient business.

No one wants to take over the inpatient business.

Jim Smith, 56, has lived his entire life in Spokane. The developmentally disabled man, who’s about 10 or 12 mentally, came down with drug-resistant pneumonia in February while living at Valley View Senior Residence Home.

Since then, the pneumonia keeps cropping up. Smith has somehow lost the use of his legs.

He’s been in and out of hospitals, but mostly at St. Luke’s, which can’t find a Spokane nursing home to take him. Now Smith is at Sacred Heart, after another bout with pneumonia. But he’s most likely leaving for Seattle, where a nursing home has agreed to take him.

It will be Smith’s first time away from his family and from Spokane.

“To send someone like that far away from home, it just seems cruel and unusual to us,” said Roberta Allen, Smith’s sister.

, DataTimes MEMO: See related story under headline: Good workers lost in St. Luke’s shuffle

See related story under headline: Good workers lost in St. Luke’s shuffle

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