Comfort Keepers 'sad to say goodbye'

Cary Ashby • Mar 13, 2019 at 2:00 AM

An expired Medicaid license led to the abrupt closing Monday of the Norwalk office of the Comfort Keepers Home Care Agency.

Comfort Keepers provided various types of home care in in Huron, Erie, Lucas, Ottawa and Sandusky counties since 2014. The business offered nursing, personal care aides and “emergency response services.”

“After serving the Firelands region for 15 years, Comfort Keepers of Norwalk closed its doors on March 11,” said local Comfort Keepers owner Penny Gregory, who provided an explanation for the closing in a prepared statement to the Reflector.

“Our Medicaid license expired and, as a result, we are unable to continue serving our many wonderful clients. Because the care our former clients receive is critical to their ability to maintain their quality of life and remain in their homes, we have worked with Medicaid case managers and other area in-home care agencies to arrange care for all our clients. Additionally, we have been working with those agencies to place our former employees as caregivers to minimize care disruptions and help our former team members land on their feet. We thank the Norwalk and Firelands region for welcoming us into the community and are sad to say goodbye.”

The door at Comfort Keepers, 77 Whittlesey Ave., was locked as of early Monday afternoon. A sign posted on the door said “sorry we are closed. Please place time sheets in the mail slot. Thank you.”

Saudia Gajadhar, senior director of marketing and communications, of CK Franchising Inc., also emailed a prepared statement to the Reflector. CK Franchising is the parent company of Comfort Keepers.

“As an organization dedicated to providing uplifting, quality care across the United States and around the world, CK Franchising Inc., parent company and franchisor of Comfort Keepers, was disappointed to learn that our Norwalk franchise must close due to the expiration of its Medicaid license,” Gajadhar said.

“While this is an uncommon occurrence for the Comfort Keepers brand, we have been assured by the franchise owner that care options for clients, and potential job opportunities for caregivers, have been arranged with Norwalk-area care providers to minimize client disruption.”

Co-workers of a Sandusky woman who worked for the business a couple years received texts Monday morning that said Comfort Keepers was closed, but the texts didn’t provide any further details, said the woman’s husband, who declined to be identified. He also told the Reflector at one point “nobody was being paid” in the Norwalk office and there were rumors “they weren’t doing well” and might have to shut down.

The Comfort Keepers website lists seven Norwalk employees, including three “home health registered nurses.” Also according to the website, each Comfort Keeper was required to “pass extensive background checks and complete continuing education” and were “bonded, insured and covered by workers’ compensation insurance to protect our clients and their families.”

Comfort Keepers was geared toward providing assistance for “Norwalk seniors who wish to remain independent at home,” according to its website.

TLC Home Health of Ohio Inc., which has a Norwalk location, offers similar services as Comfort Keepers. TLC Home Health human resources manager Monica Patton said with Comfort Keepers closing, “it would be beneficial to us.”

“It allows us to take on more clientele and staffing,” added Patton, who estimated that TLC Home Health has 250 company-wide clients on a monthly average. 

TLC Home Health offers: Homemaking and personal care services, private duty, waiver, passport, workers’ compensation plus nurses and nurses aides/home health aides. It has been in business since 1996.

“We use Medicare, so we go through their programs or you can private-pay,” Patton said. “We have six locations in Ohio, Norwalk being one of them.”

Other home health-care options for area residents include Fisher-Titus Home Health Center and Care Companions of Norwalk.

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