After much discussion among the Board of Trustees (which is documented in meeting minutes) and with members of the community, the conclusion was reached that it was appropriate to bring the issue to the Synod of Bishops rather than make this difficult decision ourselves. The bishops asked that the Administration renew its efforts to cut costs, and prayed for wisdom to reach the right answer. After cost-cutting efforts were ineffective, and after time for prayerful reflection, the Synod issued an ukaz or directive recommending closure of the OPH. That recommendation was considered by the Board of Trustees, and a resolution was adopted, unopposed, that the facility should close.
The decision to close was made in February 2020, and since that time, we have been working with the Department of Health to finalize the closure plan. Under DOH regulations, the decision to close was required to be kept confidential until it could be reviewed and approved by the DOH. This process was delayed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some administrative matters, but approval was granted in a letter dated January 11, 2021. Again, in accordance with DOH regulations, the decision could not be disclosed to anyone until the residents and their families were informed, and this took place on January 20, 2021. At that time, we also informed our employees and invited interested members of the ROC community to a webinar on January 21, 2021 to hear from convent administrators about the decision to close and about the process leading up to the decision.