Emerald South shutdown set for Jan. 31, 2019

November 27, 2018

By Tracey Drury – Reporter, Buffalo Business First

A timeline for the shutdown of Emerald South Nursing & Rehabilitation Center has been set, with closure expected by late January.

That’s according to a layoff notice filed by the company operating the Buffalo nursing home.

The company announced in mid November the Delaware Avenue site would close, but held off on actual dates. The notice filed Nov. 19 with the State Department of Labor sets a date of Jan. 31 for the shutdown, citing economic reasons.

The filing follows a state-designated takeover by The Grand Healthcare System on Oct. 29 of both Emerald South and Emerald North Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which has since been renamed as Buffalo Community Healthcare Center.

Though the DOL filing lists 160 jobs, that number reflects the total number of people employed over the last year, which included temporary and contract workers. The actual number of current staffers is 96, according to Jay Lawrence, corporate director of business development at Queens-based Grand Healthcare.

Most of those workers will transfer to jobs next door or find work at other area skilled nursing facilities. Because the two buildings are controlled and operated by separate companies, workers will have to go through a lay off and rehire process, he said.

Layoffs, he added, won't happen until residents begin to transfer either to Buffalo Community Healthcare Center or other sites. Already, about 20 residents have moved next door.

“The goal is to bring as many staff over as is possible and appropriate, and no one will be leaving that building until all the residents are situated,” Lawrence said. “Clearly, we never want to be short-staffed so we have a keen interest in the residents, families and also staff.”

Next week, the company will hold a series of hiring events in conjunction with the State Department of Health and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which represents workers at the site.

According to Todd Hobler, vice president for nursing homes at 1199, workers from Emerald South will have first opportunity to bid on jobs as they open up next door and once those are filled, there’s a process where longer tenured union members can bump others out of positions based on seniority. And many other 1199 nursing homes have provided lists of open job shifts with full time and part time opportunities which will be shared at the job fair.

Hobler said he’s satisfied so far with how Grand Healthcare is managing the transition.

“They seem to be hands-on,” he said. “They’ve met with us, and while we don’t always agree, they’re committed to running a better nursing home operation at Emerald North than was previously the case. It’s a difficult situation to land on the ground and have to close a facility but they’re working with us to protect as many jobs as they can, so that’s a positive.”