“Cheap, cheap, Genesis is cheap,” shouted Genesis HealthCare employees and union leaders while protesting Wednesday afternoon in front of the Jones Road nursing and rehabilitation facility.
Many employees are angry at the company’s decision made earlier this month to close the center on May 12, leaving all 113 employees without a job and 75 residents without a home. The roughly two dozen protesters, mostly nurses and aides, cited Genesis’s unwillingness to help employees transfer to other company-owned centers, and what they see as forsaking patient care for profits.
“We do believe the building is being closed because we voted the union in,” said Cathy Henry of Cinroc Circle in East Falmouth. “The patients are going to pay the price for Genesis’s unfair business practices.” Ms. Henry is a licensed practical nurse and has worked there full time since 2009. She and the rest of the staff were given 60-days notice of the nursing center’s closure.
Genesis HealthCare, LLC, owns 30 short-stay and long-term care facilities including one in Mashpee. According to employees who sat in on a recent facility-wide meeting, Genesis is offering up its Mashpee center location for possible patient transfers.
“They’re closing because of greed. Our facility here in Falmouth is much better equipped to handle patients, especially residents with dementia, over the Mashpee center. But the Mashpee center employees are not unionized,” Ms. Henry said.
Genesis spokesman Jeanne Moore said the closing of the Falmouth center “has nothing to do with the union. Genesis has worked closely with SEIU for many years in Massachusetts and in many other states.” The closure is “due to the highly competitive Cape Cod long-term care market,” she said.
“The fact that we felt like we had to unionize speaks to the way we are treated here,” Ms. Henry said. The staffing ratio is poor. There have been 22 patients assigned to one nurse. That’s unsafe.” She also said she was often required to work back-to-back eight-hour shifts to cover holes in the schedule.
“Who really loses out are the patients,” said nursing aide Michelle Hoag of Old Meeting House Road in East Falmouth. “We grow so close to our patients. We become like family. And now they’re going to be uprooted, and it will be very traumatic for them.”
Protesters said they want the chance to transfer to another Genesis-owned facility. Ms. Moore said the Falmouth staff “is encouraged to apply for open positions at other Genesis centers.”
Jeff Hall, communications director for 1199 SEIU, said the company should give them the opportunity to move into other positions within the Genesis network of nursing homes, preserving the employees’ experience with residents.
“We’re pushing for a higher level of job security. It’s only a matter of fairness to the patient and employee.”
Ms. Henry said she will look for a nursing job on the Cape but is not sure how hard it will be to find work.
“They [Genesis] said we could apply for a job, just like anyone else off the street. It made me feel like I wouldn’t be hirable because I am part of a union.”