The fate of St. John’s Retirement Village in Woodland remains uncertain after the county withdrew its bid to purchase the site, citing pending litigation relating to the property.
Earlier this spring, the Yolo County Board of Directors unanimously voted to purchase the 13-acre North Woodland facility for $2.9 million and use it to provide housing for low-income seniors and CalWORKs families and other services to use.
The opportunity arose after St. John’s announced its closure in early 2022.
For decades, the facility provided a range of services including senior living, assisted living and memory care, and skilled nursing at Stollwood Convalescent Hospital on the St. John’s campus.
But the arrival of COVID-19 in 2020 was devastating. Stollwood was the scene of the worst nursing home outbreak in the county early in the pandemic, killing 17 and sickening many staff and residents.
Months later, in the summer of 2020, St. John’s announced it was closing Stollwood, and a year and a half later announced plans to close the entire campus.
St. John’s board cited reduced demand for services, a labor shortage and frequent lockdowns during the pandemic as reasons for the closure.
At that time, the board expressed an interest in the county or Dignity Health purchasing the property. Dignity had already begun making plans to acquire the Stollwood building for an expanded adult day health center, but was not interested in the entire property, district officials told supervisors in April.
The district then laid out its plan to purchase the campus — largely with US bailout funds — and use it for a variety of purposes, including 32 low-income senior housing units; 37 housing units for low-income CalWORKS families; a new day health center for adults; a children’s reception center and more.
But at the time there was a competing proposal — a group of individuals, led by former St. John’s board member Stan Levers, including a former Woodland mayor and other former board members and employees, wanted to buy the site and resume its former operations.
However, the St. John’s board rejected that proposal, and board member Jenee Rawlings (President and CEO of Yolo Federal Credit Union) told county regulators that communities like St. John’s were disappearing across the country, having already been destroyed before the outbreak of Struggled financially with COVID-19.
“They don’t enjoy economies of scale and just can’t compete with large systems anymore,” Rawlings said. “Reopening and re-licensing these facilities is not a viable option, which will require a major and expensive rebuild that will place an economic burden on the (Levers’s) group.
“Mr. The Levers team would have to start from scratch in an environment of very slow recovery to capacity and significant staffing challenge,” Rawlings said.
A lawsuit was then filed in May, naming the St. John’s Board and the District as defendants and seeking an injunction against the District’s purchase of the property.
The lawsuit alleges that St. John’s current board of directors “failed to perform their due diligence to assess whether the proposal, as it might be made or reasonably modified, could be successful to improve the operation of (St. John’s Retirement Village) to continue …”. and that the Board did not deal in good faith with Levers and his group.
The lawsuit also contradicts the notion that establishments like St. John’s are no longer financially viable, instead alleging mismanagement by St. John’s board led to its bankruptcy, which in turn led to the decision to close in January.
That lawsuit — currently scheduled to be heard in April 2023 — prompted district regulators to add a caveat to their purchase offer in May, saying that the lawsuit must be dismissed with prejudice before closing and that the district be given an opportunity to terminate the agreement if closing was not completed by September 30 due to the lawsuit.
September 30 came and went last week, and on Monday the county announced it was terminating the agreement after St. John’s “failed to meet the terms of closing, including the resolution of pending litigation related to the property.” .
Supervisor Angel Barajas said: “There is no clear path for the county to proceed with its acquisition efforts without facing significant additional costs, uncertainty and an unknown timeframe for completion.
“Unfortunately, my colleagues and I cannot take the opportunity to reconsider the campus (St. John’s) as a single location that offers services to older adults and other vulnerable Yolo County residents who need assistance,” Barajas said.
Supervisor Oscar Villegas of West Sacramento agreed, saying, “The fate of this unique property is now beyond our control, but we will redouble our efforts to expand and improve the quality of housing and services for seniors and low-income Yolo County residents.” .
In the meantime, the county said, Dignity Health continues to lease a building for an expanded Adult Day Health Center facility at the St. John’s site.
“ADHC is a leading county priority, and the county has provided $2.5 million to Dignity to support its efforts to open an expanded ADHC,” said a county news release. “The county will continue to be actively involved with Dignity Health in efforts to develop an expanded adult day health center at site (St. John’s) or other suitable location.”