KARNES CITY – As the final resident was getting prepared to leave, Linda Escondon wiped tears away after discussing about the Karnes City Health & Rehab Center closing for good.
“We knew something was coming for months,” Escondon said.
The employees were reassured the center was in good condition by Administrator David Lemons on Jan. 31, Escondon said.
“He (Lemon) said everything was going to be okay,” she said.
“He told us not to worry.”
The next day, Feb. 1, Lemon called Bluebonnet Nursing & Rehab in Karnes City, along with a nursing home in Stockdale and started transferring patients.
“It was heartbreaking what happened that day,” Escondon said.
“A lot of the residents didn’t want to leave.
“All we did was cry with the residents.”
Dr. Sanjeev Bhatia became sole owner of the center back in 2018.
“I thought it was a good investment,” Bhatia said.
“There were a lot of financial issues.”
“I had it for sale, but there wasn’t any interest.”
Bhatia has been a pulmonologist in Victoria for 15 years and exhausted personal avenues in attempts to keep the center afloat.
“The bills were just adding up,” he said.
“I had to use my savings just to keep it going.”
Escondon was a cook at the center for three years and said employees purchased supplies with their own money.
“We would be out of supplies a lot,” she said.
“We would run and buy baby wipes because they didn’t order enough. They wouldn’t buy enough of a lot of the supplies.”
The pay period leading up to the closure ended Jan. 31, but insufficient funds forced employees to go unpaid.
“The checks bounced the day before they started sending patients out,” Escondon said.
As of Feb. 5, things improved.
“We have less than five checks pending, but most of them have cleared,” Bhatia said.
“The pending ones will be processed in a few days.”
The center was home to 25 residents before its closure located at 209 Country Club Drive in Karnes City.