LINCOLN — State officials scrambled Friday to put a receiver in charge of 21 nursing facilities across Nebraska after the owner failed to make payroll.

The facilities are owned by Cottonwood Healthcare, known as Skyline, based in Wood Ridge, New Jersey.

The company was founded in 2016 and took over a number of nursing homes and assisted living facilities that had been previously operated by Golden Living.

Matt Litt, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said officials were alerted early Friday that Cottonwood would be unable to pay its employees.

He said public health officials worked with the Attorney General’s Office to set up a receivership and get it approved in court.

A Lancaster County judge signed off on the plan late Friday and copies of the order were filed in the 19 counties. The order appointed Klaasmeyer & Associates to manage the facilities while a long-term plan is worked out.

Ashley Schlotfeld has worked at Omaha Metro Care and Rehabilitation Center as a certified nursing assistant medication aide for the past five months.

She said Friday that employees haven’t been paid for three weeks. They found out Friday that the company did not have the money to pay them. Nevertheless, workers were still taking care of those in the facility.

“You do not want to abandon your residents,” Schlotfeld said.

Litt said HHS officials would be working through the weekend to ensure that residents of the facilities are being cared for and that employees are getting paid.

Schlotfeld said the situation at her facility has been steadily deteriorating, to the point that residents were not getting supplies such as toothbrushes and wipes and at one point the executive director had to be personally called to buy vitamins for a resident.

They’ve had “very, very many complaints” from relatives, she said.

The facilities affected : the Omaha Metro and Sorensen Care and Rehabilitation Centers in Omaha; Valhaven Care and Rehabilitation Center in Valley; as well as care and rehabilitation centers in Plattsmouth, Broken Bow, Columbus, Cozad, Franklin, Fullerton, Grand Island (Lakeview and Park Place), Hartington, Nebraska City, Neligh, Norfolk, O’Neill, Schuyler, Scottsbluff, Sidney, Tekamah and Wausa.

World-Herald staff writer Dan Golden contributed to this report.

Martha Stoddard keeps legislators honest from The World-Herald's Lincoln bureau, where she covers news from the State Capitol. Follow her on Twitter @StoddardOWH. Phone: 402-473-9583.

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