Imagine losing your home, belongings, friends, and routine over the course of 24 hours. For the 174 residents of Northview Village, this became a reality. 

December 15th, 2023, began in confusion and turned into chaos. That morning, staff realized their paychecks had not been deposited. As the day crept into the afternoon, the paychecks never came. That afternoon, residents saw medical equipment moved out of the facility via U-Haul, and staff began to trickle out. By 4:00 PM, word spread that the facility would be closing immediately. The residents were transported to other facilities, some without their belongings, proper clothing, or any identifying paperwork or medical records. Valuable and sentimental objects representing moments of their lives were strewn about. Two residents went missing. Families and friends were left wondering where their loved ones were.  

By late that night, Northview Village, one of the largest nursing homes in Saint Louis, Missouri, with 174 residents and a total of 320 available beds, was completely deserted.  

While this horrible situation is not the norm for a facility closure, the atrocity lies in actions taken along the way, straying far from residents’ rights. Residents’ rights were established by the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law. They refer to the rights residents are entitled to while they reside in a long-term care facility. Some of these include:  

  • The right to be fully informed regarding their own care.  
  • The right to a dignified existence with consideration and respect.  
  • The right to self-determination, with choices in activities, schedules, health care, and providers.  
  • The right to privacy and confidentiality.  
  • Rights during discharge and transfer.

Northview Village owners and administrators violated residents’ rights in the chaos caused by the closure of the nursing home.  

One resident was told he had to be transferred immediately, resulting in him being transferred in only his shirt, without shoes or pants.  

One resident who used a motorized wheelchair was pulled out of that chair, placed in an office chair, rolled outside, and then shoved into a sedan, an incident that the individual labeled as the most physically painful experience of his life. The expensive motorized wheelchair was left behind and went missing. A replacement was not found after two months.  

One aspect of the right to a dignified existence includes the right to security of one’s possessions, of which not a single former resident of Northview Village had the privilege. None of the residents were allowed to take any of their belongings. The facility was left unlocked throughout the night of December 15th and through the weekend. It was looted, leaving most belongings trashed, ransacked, or taken.  

Residents were not allowed to participate in decisions about their own care. They did not get a choice of where they were transferred to, nor were they given time to contact loved ones and inform them of where they would be moving. Terrified family members had no way of contacting their loved ones or learning where they ended up.  

With residents’ rights violated and lives shattered, how did VOYCE respond?

On the morning of December 16th, Lisa Smith, VOYCE’s Lead Ombudsman, and June Brown, the volunteer ombudsman who spent 20 years at Northview, went to the scene. Upon entering the once-nice building, the ombudsman found a scene that could only be described as “apocalyptic.” Papers and items were strewn about, friends and family were worriedly searching for answers, card games were left unfinished, and ransacked rooms showed remnants of what the community used to be, solidifying the ombudsman’s empathy as they bore witness to events of December 15th.   

The following week, the Ombudsman team and supporting staff partnered with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the State Ombudsman Office to speak with residents whose lives were flipped upside down that December night. They visited residents to offer support, helped reunify families, and reminded people of their rights as residents in a long-term care facility. The team faced obstacles locating all the residents as much of the information was inaccessible or nonexistent. One resident remained missing in the chaos, and they would not be found until January 9th.   

VOYCE, St. Louis Area Agency on Aging, St. Louis City Senior Fund, the St. Louis Mental Health Board, and representatives from many other nonprofits banded together to do wellness checks on former Northview residents in the first week of the year. The Senior Fund and Mental Health Board provided funds to replace some of the most vital items residents lost.  

Moving Forward

There is no way to undo the trauma that the 174 residents of Northview Village Nursing Home experienced. VOYCE will continue to work to ensure residents’ rights are respected. We will continue to highlight what happened at Northview to hold the owners accountable for their failures.


Written by Chloe Amstutz, VOYCE Social Work Practicum Student, Katherine Atkinson, VOYCE Social Work Practicum Student, with editing by Marjorie Moore, VOYCE Executive Director, and Shelby Collier, VOYCE Event Coordinator.

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