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Highland Nursing & Rehabilitation plans to close and turn into a drug treatment facility, its owners say.

HIGHLAND — A nursing home here plans to close and turn into an inpatient drug treatment facility, its owner said.

But town officials said they were not aware of the plans and that converting into a substance abuse rehab would require town approval.

Highland Nursing & Rehabilitation, 9630 Fifth St., plans to cease operations Aug. 1, according to its owner, Chosen Healthcare, a Fishers company that has nursing homes in Indiana, Iowa and Texas. The facility is operated by Daviess Community Hospital in Washington, Indiana.

Chosen Healthcare said it has offered to relocate the 27 Highland nursing home residents to other Chosen facilities and, if that is not an option, to unaffiliated locations. According to the website for Chosen, its nearest locations are in Knox and Fowler, northwest of Lafayette.

In a statement, the company said it is also "working with the 37 staff members at Highland to explore options to continue working with us or move to new career opportunities.”

The statement said the new inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center "will be a professionally run, highly safe operation where we help provide medical care for those in recovery. We will incorporate the best practices of the industry, such as serving no more than 14 clients at a time, to ensure both high-quality care and respect for local communities.”

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Ken Mika, building commissioner and zoning administrator for the town of Highland, said the land is zoned R-1, or single-family residential. The nursing home has been there so long that it was essentially grandfathered into the residential neighborhood, he said.

He said the owner can't change the "current use from a nursing home to a drug rehab or anything else for that matter" without requesting a use variance, which would require approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Town Council. A permit also would be needed for any renovations, he said.

In addition, two Highland Nursing & Rehabilitation employees told The Times on the condition of anonymity that the facility was moving some residents to other Chosen-owned nursing homes without notifying the individuals' families, even though the facilities were far away from Highland, in some cases “bribing” the residents with things like cigarettes and snacks.

In a statement, the company said it "worked closely with all residents and, when possible and appropriate, included their families on all decisions about their future care."

"In some cases, residents either did not have family members involved in their care or could medically make decisions for themselves," the statement read. "As much as possible, we tried to minimize the disruption to our residents’ and their families’ lives. As we held conversations with residents and families, we informed them about our other facilities and answered questions, such as whether tobacco products were available onsite. We carefully monitored this process to ensure that all legal requirements and regulatory guidelines were followed as our staff presented choices for potential living arrangements, and any rumors to the contrary are false.”

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Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.