BOSTON, Mass.—Genesis, the nation’s largest nursing home chain, has come under fire from workers across the Commonwealth. Complaints include unaffordable health care plans, low salaries, the recent closure of Glenwood Hood Nursing Home in Lowell, and new plans to close the Falmouth Center. Workers at the Glenwood facility are particularly upset that they were not given the option to transfer to either of the two other Genesis-owned facilities in Lowell, Willow Manor and Heritage Nursing Care Facility.
According to the Boston Business Journal, Genesis held information sessions for patients and their families to discuss a probable closure timetable and to discuss alternative care options. Workers were given 60 days’ notice about the closure, which is reflected in Genesis’ filings with state labor officials. Caregivers were not given the option to follow their patients to their new facilities.
Since the fall, the Pennsylvania-based company has also closed the Rosewood Center in Fall River and the Hammond Center in Worcester, according to Genesis spokeswoman Jeanne Moore. In a statement to SPARE CHANGE NEWS, Moore said, “The physical plants of each of these three centers were not up to Genesis standards. The centers required massive renovations and structural improvements to meet the safety and comfort requirements that our patients and families expect. Therefore, the decision was made to close them.”
Most recently, on 12 May, Genesis announced it would close the 75-bed Falmouth Center. Moore said this was “for strategic business reasons and due to the highly competitive Cape Cod long-term care market.” She also said that information sessions would be available in coming weeks for patients and their families to discuss alternative care options.
All of these centers were originally purchased from Sun HealthCare in December 2012. The company owns 40 sites total throughout the Commonwealth.
“The biggest problem with the Glenwood closure was the refusal to allow healthcare workers to transfer into jobs at other Genesis facilities close by,” said Hall. “Glenwood was a primary example where residents were hurt by Genesis deciding to disrupt the continuity of care and deny transfer options to caregivers.” Hall adds that Glenwood was a primarily psychiatric facility, and uprooting those residents and preventing caregivers from following through could prove to be very traumatic.
“For Genesis to act like it has no choice is a misrepresentation of the fact that they have the resources to provide better care and better jobs—they’re choosing not to do so, and there needs to be accountability.”
In the wake of the Falmouth closure announcement, the 1199 announced it is now backing Massachusetts Senate Bill 287, which would require a public hearing process for any nursing home that wanted to apply for a license, transfer ownership, or give notice of intent to sell or close nursing home facilities, similar to what is required of hospitals.
Additionally, Genesis employees across the state are upset that their demands for more affordable healthcare options were met with the suggestion that they instead apply for government benefits if they weren’t able to afford the available options. According to Hall, most Genesis employees are paid minimum or near minimum wage rates, which makes affording healthcare difficult. When it comes to healthcare workers, Hall said, “They might only think of doctors or nurses, but there are many other types of jobs that go into helping keep a nursing home operation, clean, safe, and providing quality care.”
Moore disagreed with Hall’s claims, saying that the average certified nursing assistant at Genesis makes $16 per hour. In regards to health insurance, Hall said “We have explained that the Genesis health insurance plan is similar to the [Affordable Care Act’s] Silver Plan. Employees were encouraged to compare the two.”
Moore also said that Genesis and the union were working together to try to increase funding to the nursing home industry because they have received no Medicaid rate increase in over six years—“the lack of a rate increase has placed tremendous pressure on the nursing home industry in general.”
Tara Gregorio of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association told the Cape Cod Times that funding could get worse next year, since Governor Deval Patrick has proposed cutting Medicaid funding for nursing homes by 1.5 percent (about $20 million) in fiscal year 2015.
Workers’ protests against Genesis have already been held in Lowell, Wakefield, and North Reading. More protests are expected in Falmouth and Saugus.