SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – On day two of hearings, the state’s Department of Public Health hosted a phone conference Thursday night to discuss the closure of the two other nursing facilities, Chapin Center and Governor’s Center.
Northeast Health Group has proposed to close four facilities on June 6th as the families of residents are already trying to relocate their loved ones. Wednesday night there was a hearing for the closure of Willimansett Centers East and West. There DPH explained the review process in the closure.
A spokesperson for Northeast Health Group explained the closure was because of a requirement implemented last year. That limited the number of patients to two per room. Adding they had to discharge patients when the healthcare group’s waiver wasn’t approved.
“This new requirement alone resulted in the loss of $7.2 million in revenue across the four homes over the last 12 months. Additionally, new minimum staffing requirements added additional costs of approximately $600,000,” said Heather Berchem of Northeast Health Group.
The future of the four nursing homes here in Hampden County is in jeopardy of closing by this summer. Another hearing, this time the focus was on Chapin Center in Springfield, and Governor’s Center in Westfield, both owned by Northeast Health Group.
Berchem adds, “Unfortunately new rules passed in 2021 and implemented in 2022 have made it impossible for this business to continue. Bercham said the health group had to discharge patients to achieve compliance with new state regulations on beds within the facility, this after unsuccessfully seeking a waiver of that rule by the state.
“Chapin Center was the only facility that reached out to us about a year ago, with their waiver request with DPH,” said State Senator Adam Gomez of Hampden. But according to Senator Gomez, his office never received any follow-up from Chapin Center after that first request for help. Gomez questioned why the Department of Public Health didn’t consider the facility for that waiver.
“We need a little bit more consideration around that waiver process, said Helen Caulton-Harris, Springfield Health and Human Services, Commissioner. Commissioner Caulton-Harris said the closure of the nursing homes will disproportionately impact Springfield residents.
“We implore that a strategy will be developed that really takes into consideration the geographical disparity in western Massachusetts and that strategy does look at our region and the needs of our region,” added Caulton-Harris.
A statement to 22News from Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said, “My administration stands ready and able to assist the families and employees if needed.” He then goes on to say, “no senior or family will be left behind and without a bed, if the worst-case scenario happens.”
And based on their findings, the DPH will either approve of the closure plan or provide the facility with a comment on the closure plan within 14 days of tonight’s hearing.