About 135 elderly residents of a Seattle University nursing home found out Monday the home is closing and they have two months to move out...

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About 135 elderly residents of a Seattle University nursing home found out Monday the home is closing and they have two months to move out.

The shuttering of the three-level Bessie Burton Sullivan Skilled Nursing Residence on the downtown Seattle U. campus also will leave about 200 staff members looking for new jobs.

“We think it’s a pretty big deal,” said Vicki Elting, King County Long Term Care Ombudsman. “It’s a facility that’s so centrally located. In many ways, it’s a loss of a resource to the community. We’re sad they’re not selling it to another nursing home.”

The nursing home typically filled close to its 139-resident capacity. About three-quarters of those at the home are long-term residents with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Others are short-term residents who have been discharged from hospitals but need a week or two for further recovery.

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The home will not accept any more short-term residents after Jan. 31 and plans to close altogether March 15.

Seattle U. hand-delivered letters to all residents and told the nursing-home staff of the closure Monday. In the evening, the university’s senior vice president, Tim Leary, met with residents.

“Obviously people were pretty upset, and there were lots of tears,” he said. “The biggest issue for them is: ‘Just where will we go?’ “

Leary said a social-services professional will be assigned to each resident to work out a transfer plan that meets his or her needs, as well as the needs of family and loved ones.

He said it will be most difficult to place the one-third of residents on the state/federal Medicaid program. Of the remaining residents, about one-third receive federal Medicare money and one-third are private payers, Leary added.

He said the university also is trying to help place staffers in new jobs and is reviewing campus openings.

Opened in 1990, the nursing home was to enable nursing students to work with elderly residents right on campus.

Leary said the university is closing the home because it needs space for its growing student population and owning a nursing home falls outside its core mission of educating students.

When vacated, it will be used for faculty offices, class space, science laboratories and student housing, he said.

He said four Seattle U. faculty and staffers have parents in the home.

“It’s a very strong fit for them, because they can go and visit during their lunch hour,” Leary said. “It’s particularly difficult for them.”

Seattle Times staff reporter Marsha King contributed to this report.

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or nperry@seattletimes.com