Debt-ridden Wichita Masonic Home closes abruptly, leaves senior residents just weeks to move
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - With wait lists varying from a couple of months to sometimes even years, finding a senior living home in Wichita is no easy task. Now, more than 60 residents at the Kansas Masonic Home have only six weeks to get out.
Just two weeks ago, residents like David Bennett's 90-year-old mom, Terry, were enjoying live music, making friends, and settling in where they thought would be their forever home.
"The older people get, it's harder to change things for them," said Bennett.
But Friday, their world was turned upside down when KMH announced its doors would close at the end of the year.
"Holidays can be stressful enough, let alone with throwing this twist in," said Bennett. "It's scary at their age. They don't know where they're going. They don't know, you know, who's going to be there to help them."
KMH Marketing Director Jamie Bunch says the team didn't even find out about the closure until Friday morning, and she says it's been a difficult couple of days.
"It's never going to be a good time. And this, of course, is a difficult time of year to do this. And I know that if they had the ability to wait, they would have," said Bunch.
Bunch says it's all because of debt from a big 2015 expansion when KMH added long-term care. Over the years, she says it got out of control, and the company has no choice but to hand the keys over to the bondholders.
Terri Brooks and the team at Empowered Senior are stepping up in a big way. It's partnering with KMH and offering to help any residents in need find and move to a new home.
"And they do that at no charge. They will help the seniors at the Kansas Masonic Home find a new place to live. They'll make it as comfortable for them as possible, and it will be seamless," said Brooks.
Bennett says with his mom already suffering from depression and anxiety, he hopes this is true.
"My hope is everybody finds a place to stay and, you know, can get through this move okay," said Bennett.
Bunch says the company is offering to pay out all employees' PTO on top of offering a severance package as an incentive to get workers to stay the full six weeks so the residents remain properly taken care of until the very last day.