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State to permanently close Bissell Hospital, citing declining population


The state is permanently closing Emily P. Bissell Hospital months after hot water repairs prompted residents there to be relocated this past spring.

The Wilmington-area nursing facility's 48 residents had mostly moved to the state's two other long-term care options, according to DHSS Division of Aging chief Jill Rogers. And she says about two-thirds of them wanted to stay put.

"The people who wanted to go back -- they wanted to go back for a variety of reasons, so we're going to work one on one with those residents and family members to understand what it is that's important to them, what they need, whether there can be something changed where they are now, or whether they'd like to think about another placement at another facility," Rogers said. "But we think that an individualized approach there is the best way to go."


The population at the state's long-term care facilities has steadily declined in recent years -- Rogers says Bissell was only about half full last spring. She expects the state will always be a safety net for residential aging facilities, but:


"The reality is with the significant investment we've made in home and community based services, we know that we're better able to meet people's needs where they really would prefer to be, which is in their own home, surrounded by their own things," Rogers said.


Meanwhile, Rogers says the hospital's 143 staff members have all been moved to temporary positions, and no layoffs are planned.


The Bissell facility will stay under DHSS management -- Rogers says the repairs, which cost $950,000, would have been necessary no matter its next use.


The overall budget for Bissell was $10.3 million -- Rogers says its closure will save them some money. Its next use hasn't been determined yet.


A separate part of the facility will still house a Christiana Care day program.