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Mental Health Board gives up to $20,000 to help relocated Northview Village residents

Sally Mae Heinrich, 62, of Pontoon Beach, peers inside the now-shuttered Northview Village Nursing Home — St. Louis’ largest — on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, in the Kingsway West neighborhood. Heinrich said she has worked at the home for more than a decade in a variety of roles.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Sally Mae Heinrich, 62, of Pontoon Beach, peers inside the now-shuttered Northview Village Nursing Home — St. Louis’ largest — on Dec. 19 in the Kingsway West neighborhood. Heinrich said she has worked at the home for more than a decade in a variety of roles.

The City of St. Louis’ Mental Health Board voted unanimously Friday to give up to $20,000 to assist relocated Northview Village nursing home residents under 60 who have behavioral health disorders.

More than 180 residents were moved to 14 different nursing homes across the region after the facility closed on Dec. 15. Ten of the facilities that residents were transferred to are in the city.

Soon after the building was vacated, it was broken into, and televisions, telephones and other items belonging to residents were stolen.

Many residents were left needing clothing, toiletry and other items lost in the transition, according to the St. Louis Senior Fund.

Mental Health Board Deputy Director Serena Muhammad said Friday the $20,000 is being pulled from the Community Mental Health Fund to cover personal hygiene items, clothing and staffing costs for case managers who meet with residents.

The city’s Senior Fund also voted unanimously earlier this week to transfer up to $174,000 into its emergency fund for case management services for residents 60 and older, as well as to help replace basic items like toiletry and clothing.

Many residents were transferred without medical charts and just the clothes on their back, Senior Fund board members said.

Muhammad said the Mental Health Board is working in conjunction with the Senior Fund, the St. Louis Department of Human Services and the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging to allocate funds and assign caseworkers to residents.

“Our role will be to take the lead on purchasing the items that will be needed for those former Northview Village residents,” Muhammad said. “We have a pretty robust accounting team that will help us allocate each purchase to the appropriate fund. We also have some private foundations who have offered funding to support this as well, and we’ll be able to allocate based on the wellness check information that we receive back.”

Mental Health Board leaders said over the past week they’ve been getting updates from the social services program VOYCE, which is serving as an advocate for the now-relocated nursing home residents. Muhammad said representatives from VOYCE have made at least one visit so far to all 14 nursing homes where residents were relocated.

“They’re in regular contact with the nursing homes, letting them know that we’re planning to come and continue to do wellness checks for those residents,” she said.

Muhammad said they’re asking case managers and social workers who have training to work with residents to assist with wellness checks. Nearly 20 organizations have already committed, she said, and they estimate needing about 40 case managers.

“If needed, we can also contract directly with individual case managers and social workers, but we think we’ll be able to get everything done through our organizational relationships,” Muhammad said.

For the wellness checks, the Mental Health Board said they have a list of residents and where they’re located. Caseworkers will ask the relocated residents questions to learn more about each person and what they need to settle into their new home.

“We’re going to rely on what clients self-report and how they identify themselves and their needs,” Muhammad said. “We will not ask questions that will require people to disclose personal health information. We are trying to work with nursing homes so that they know when we’re coming and what the process will be, but our focus is going to be in connecting with those residents and determining what they need to get acclimated.”

Since some residents who are under guardianship aren’t supposed to have direct contact with family members, board leaders said they will not ask caseworkers to reach out to family members, and instead they will focus on what the residents report themselves.

Caseworkers are scheduled to visit with residents on Tuesday.

Lacretia Wimbley is a general assignment reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.