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Blue Hill Care Center residents and staff learned in September that the facility would be closing on Nov. 21. Azira Health announced Friday that it was lifting its request for closure of the nursing home.

BLUE HILL — Azria Health announced Friday that it is lifting the request for closure of the nursing home in Blue Hill that was filed at the end of September.

The initial announcement of closure only weeks after the purchase caused an emphatic plea from the staff and community to allow the Blue Hill Care Center to remain open and allow the local citizens to house family members in a facility that was close enough to allow regular visits and involvement in their daily lives.

Azria purchased 15 facilities from Five Star, the previous owner of the nursing home and felt the need to cut the four least profitable facilities, which included the Blue Hill location.

The community formed a committee to look for alternatives within days of the closure announcement in an effort to save the facility.

Several companies began negotiations with Azria to lease or purchase the facility. But when negotiations from other companies started to fall short, Azria decided to move forward on its own, according to Blue Hill Mayor Keri Schunk.

“Azria felt that the support shown by both community and staff helped show that the facility has potential,” said Schunk after the formal announcement to remain open was made.

Staff members of the facility are excited to be able to put this behind them and get on to the business of caring for the residents.

“The staff and residents are very excited about the announcement that we will remain open. We are ready to take more admissions, hire more staff and move forward.” said Mandy Meyer, the business office manager for the facility.

The mayor and the community is also happy with Azria’s choice to stay open.

“I am positive that they will be able to turn this facility around,” Schunk said.

She took the opportunity to remind everyone that while this is a win at this moment for the community, the residents and the staff, there is a bigger picture that must be considered: “The fact is that this incident has brought rural healthcare to the attention of people who didn’t pay attention to the shortfalls in rural healthcare before.”

Cuts in rural healthcare are threatening the existence of healthcare in rural communities, and limiting the options for rural healthcare.

“We can’t stop here. We need to work to make changes at the state level and beyond to assure the availability of rural healthcare now and in the future,” Schunk said.

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