SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – In the past two years, 26 long-term care facilities have permanently closed in Iowa, including two in Sioux City.

Countryside Health Care Center announced it will be closing in September. Mission Health Communities told KCAU in a statement that 49 residents have already “safely relocated to the facilities of their choice.”

AARP Iowa said there are many potential factors that lead to a closure, such as a lack of demand in a small community, but according to the state director, staffing shortage can be the root cause of many factors in a facility’s closure.

“By far, the biggest issue related to closure is workforce…Workforce does lead to poor quality of care, we know that, poor quality of care leads to fines, and then fines lead to financial challenges down the road, which leads to closure,” said Brad Anderson, state director at AARP Iowa.

Anderson says Iowa nursing homes need to provide adequate wages to nursing home staff. The national average for a certified nurse aid is $21, while Iowa’s average is $15.

Families who are worried about long-term care for their loved ones should consider their options, including in-home care, and Connections Area Agency on Aging can help with that.

“We’re all about keeping people at home as long as it’s safely possible to do so. We can sit down with families with options counseling and talk through those choices on whether there are services that can come into the home, to support the care givers, and provide the adequate care for their loved one to remain at home,” said Chris Kuchta, Regional Marketing & Service Navigator at Connections Area Agency on Aging.

Iowa lawmakers also passed a moratorium on new nursing home licenses for 12 months and approved a $15 million increase in Medicaid reimbursement.