FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Laura Wareck | (978) 660-9587
Boston, Mass. (February 13, 2018) – Healthcare workers with 1199SEIU will raise new concerns about the closing of Excel Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation during a hearing on Tuesday, February 13th.
In testimony to the Department of Public Health (DPH), healthcare workers describe the management of Excel-Lexington as “erratic and exceedingly poor” and are highlighting a number of concerns they want addressed during the closing process – including maintaining quality care, successfully relocating residents, ensuring that workers receive their 2018 wage pass through pay increases required by law, and providing an adequate severance package for caregivers currently employed at the facility. Workers also want greater oversight of the nursing home industry to prevent future management failures at these facilities.
“I’m deeply troubled about the closing of Excel-Lexington and the significant disruption it creates for local residents, families and employees,” said Massachusetts State Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington). “I urge Excel-Lexington’s owners to work with the community and stakeholders to take care of residents and employees. I also hope the legislature takes this opportunity to enact legislation that allows us to more effectively regulate and oversee nursing home facilities so we can ensure the quality care our communities deserve.”
While healthcare workers have made some gains when it comes to nursing home oversight – including a mandated DPH hearing prior to any closure – more can be done to stabilize the industry. Healthcare workers continue to advocate for a number of provisions, including an expanded suitability review process by DPH that would more effectively address complex issues around nursing home licensing, ownership and operations. Legislation that would accomplish this and provide greater oversight of the industry (originally filed by Senate President Harriette Chandler) was recently included in comprehensive health reform legislation passed by the State Senate, thanks to an amendment filed by Senator Friedman. That legislation is currently pending in the House.
“Residents, families, employees and our community deserve much better than the poor leadership and management that has occurred at Excel-Lexington, and that’s why expanded oversight over this industry is so critical,” said Herbert Jean-Baptiste, Vice President of Long Term Care for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “We must do more to ensure that nursing homes in Massachusetts can provide quality and reliable care for residents and their families. In addition, Excel must also create an adequate transition plan to take care of our dedicated caregivers and the residents and families they serve.”
Excel-Lexington has been plagued by problems and mismanagement in recent years. In 2014, employees held a one-day strike after owners cut healthcare workers’ pay dramatically by 40 to 50 percent. Many dietary and activities staff wage rates were cut by three or four dollars an hour to the $8 state minimum wage at that time. Last fall, workers held a picket to highlight a series of failures among the latest nursing home owners, including its refusal to fulfill its responsibilities to patients, employees, families, the community and the state. Employees have also been working without a contract since the end of September 2017.
Since 2000, more than 200 of Massachusetts’ skilled nursing facilities have closed – over a third of the state’s facilities. The pace of facility sales has also accelerated in recent years. Healthcare workers also support the creation of a strong stakeholder group that can develop a plan and policy recommendations to improve licensing, closure processes and excess nursing home bed inventory.
The DPH hearing on Excel-Lexington takes place at Keilty Hall St. Brigid Church (1981 Mass Ave. Lexington, MA 02420) at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, February 13th.
Representing more than 56,000 healthcare workers throughout Massachusetts and over 400,000 workers across the East Coast, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. Our mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all. 1199SEIU is part of the 2.1 million member Service Employees International Union.