CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A virtual hearing was held Wednesday to discuss two out of the four nursing homes that are set to close.
Northeast Health Group is closing four western Massachusetts facilities on June 6th. But what’s next for the residents is still up in the air.
• Chapin Center in Springfield
• Willimansett Center West in Chicopee
• Willimansett Center East in Chicopee
• Governor’s Center in Westfield
Senator John Velis is planning to tune into the hearing for Willimansett Centers East and West in Chicopee. He said there has been conflicting information about where the roughly 300 residents will go. “They were told by one of the facilities that the option for them is to go to Pittsfield and if Pittsfield doesn’t work they can go to Boston.” All four facilities are owned by the non-profit Northeast Health Group. In the past, the Florida-based company warned a two-bed cap per room would be “financially devastating”. Once the four nursing homes are closed, Northeast Health Group will be dissolved. Heather Bircham, Licensee, Northeast Health Group says,”rules passed in 2021, implemented in 2022 have made it impossible for business to continue. Northeast has to discharge patients to achieve compliance with the new bed rule.”
The requirement resulted in a loss of $7.2 million in revenue across the four homes over the last 12 months. New minimum staffing requirements added additional costs of approximately 600 thousand dollars across the four homes.
She said that Northeast Health Group had to discharge patients to achieve compliance with the new bed rule. As well as adhere to new minimum staffing requirements which in total resulted in a net loss of 6.4 million dollars in the past 12 months. Bircham says that the group will continue to work with all the residents and their families to find appropriate locations for the residents to ensure orderly transfers.
Wednesday night family members shared the distress this proposal has caused. “We were able to finally place mom in a home in Amherst but to put this in perspective, the Chicopee home is 8 minutes from my home, and the Amherst home is about 40 minutes from my home on a good day,” expressed Edward Czepiel of Chicopee. “Mom was moved today—but my brother Tom, who escorted her on her move told me mom is nervous about moving, she is fearful.”
While Senator John Velis stands behind the requirement put in place because of Covid, Representative Bud Williams is calling for a year-long pause. “We’re in a different place now. Maybe that should apply, but I know here the impact of what it does to limited space here in western Massachusetts.”
Based on the Department of Public Health’s findings, they will either approve of the closure plan or provide the facility with a comment on the closure plan within 14 days (lv) of Wednesday night’s hearing.
The Massachusetts Senior Care Association, which represents nearly 400 nursing and rehabilitation facilities echoed that sentiment saying in part, “Twenty-five nursing facilities have announced closure since the start of the pandemic, with half closing in the last 12 months. Sadly, these closures have impacted several hundred residents, their families, and staff. They have been driven, in part, by the state’s so-called ‘reconfiguration requirements’ but also by our severe staffing crisis, which we believe will continue to be existential for providers across long term care.”
However, Katie Murphy the President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association said you can’t put profit over patients. “See if there’s any way they can keep these facilities open so that patients would have beds and the whole healthcare team would be able to maintain jobs.”
According to Stephen Davis, Director of, the Division of Health Care Facility Licensure and Certification
Department of Public Health these are the steps that will follow the hearing:
- The department will complete its review of the proposed closure plan and public comments/concerns.
- Based on their findings, they will either approve of the closure plan or provide the facility with a comment on the closure plan within 14 days of Wednesday night’s hearing.
- If it’s necessary for the department to make comments on the proposed closure plan, the facility must provide a response to those comments in writing within 14 days.
- Once the department approves the closure plan, and the closure date, the facility must take the following steps within 60 days before the approved closure date.
- They must post notification of the DPH’s approval of the closure plan and closure date as well as a notice that the facility will close within the facility.
- They must provide this information to each person who receives the initial notification of the facility’s intent to close.
Another hearing is slated for Thursday evening for nursing homes, Chapin Center in Springfield, and Governor’s Center in Westfield.
To attend the Zoom meetings:
- Chicopee Willimansett East & West on Wednesday, March 1 at 6 p.m.
- PASSCODE: 8045037
- Chapin Center in Springfield and Governor’s Center in Westfield on Thursday, March 2 at 6 p.m.
- PASSCODE: 3522632