NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The Massachusetts Department of Health says new patients are no longer being accepted at five nursing homes in Southeastern Massachusetts due to “ongoing operational issues.”
The nursing homes include Dighton Care in Dighton, Highland Manor Care in Fall River, and Rockdale Care, Bedford Village and Bedford Gardens, all located in New Bedford.
Stephanie Carvalho’s 62-year-old mother, Mary, is a patient at Bedford Gardens. Carvalho, of Swansea, said she received a voicemail on Easter Sunday from the nursing home. A representative told her they were moving all the patients on the third floor, including her mother, to the second or first floor.
“Unfortunately, we have a serious staffing crisis that we are requiring to move our third-floor residents to the first and second floors,” the voicemail said.
Carvalho said she is frustrated with how her mother, and the other patients at Bedford Gardens, are currently being treated.
“I wouldn’t send my worst enemy here,” Carvalho said.
The Massachusetts Department of Health said the five nursing homes affected by the staffing shortage are owned and operated by Skyline Healthcare, which is based out of New Jersey.
Steven Hasse, the director of Bedford Gardens, told the New Bedford Standard-Times the paychecks for nurses at his facility have been late for at least two pay periods. He said when those checks finally arrived on Monday, many of them bounced.
Carvalho said much of the staff at Bedford Gardens has not returned to work since then.
“You know what, I don’t blame them for not coming in,” she said. “If I were working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and not getting paid, I wouldn’t go in either.”
Hasse told The Standard-Times his facility is now “heavily relying on workers from outside staffing agencies.” He said he is worried about patient welfare because each nurses aid is currently responsible for 18 to 20 people.
Carvalho said this is the only facility in the area that can accommodate her mother’s needs.
“She wants to come home,” Carvalho said. “But she knows she can’t come home yet because she needs to be able to walk a little bit better.”
Carvalho’s mother has been a patient at Bedford Gardens since December and is set to be discharged in a couple of weeks. But with what is going on, Carvalho said she wished her mother’s departure was sooner.
“Please, if you have family members here, come get them out of here,” she said. “They need to go somewhere where people will take care of them.”
Eyewitness News reached out to Skyline Healthcare, but the company’s listed phone number was disconnected. The Department of Health says it is working closely with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to monitor the situation.
Anyone with a complaint or concern regarding the situation is asked to file a complaint with the health department.