PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dozens of caregivers marched through the streets of Providence Tuesday to protest the planned closure of a Providence nursing center.
Charlesgate Nursing Center is slated to close its doors for good on July 31. Davenport Associates, which runs the senior care facility, announced earlier this month that the nursing unit would cease operations due to a “severe staffing shortage.”
“We recognize the challenges that this decision may cause, but there was no other option due to current industry conditions,” Davenport Associates President Neil Shunney said. “This difficult and unfortunate decision was made necessary due to unprecedented staffing shortages, in particular among nurses, that are impacting healthcare facilities throughout the region and nation.”
But SEIU 1199 New England, which represents 90 staffers at Charlesgate, argues that Davenport Associates hasn’t been transparent with caregivers and patients.
“Over the last two weeks, management has packed up and moved nearly 40 residents to other facilities,” certified nursing assistant Edwina Gobewole said. “In less than a month, they have cleared out an entire floor of residents and told us to pack up the belongings of all the rest. We expect all the residents to be moved by the end of the month.”
“The residents cry, many don’t know where they are going or who they are going to meet on the other end,” she continued, adding that the facility “…wasted little time relocating residents.”
The caregivers marched from Charlesgate to the Rhode Island State House Tuesday afternoon, with a stop in between at the Rhode Island Department of Health, in hopes of getting the attention of state leaders. The union is urging the state to intervene and place the senior care facility into receivership.
“For over 50 years, Charlesgate Nursing Center has served as a vital piece of Providence’s social safety net, providing nursing home care, low income housing and healthcare services to individuals who are predominately Medicaid, homeless and severely ill,” the union wrote in a statement. “With Rhode Island’s homelessness having increased by 50% from 2020 to 2022, eliminating Charlesgate services will only exacerbate this trend.”
On the same day as the rally, the health department approved the facility’s closure plan, spokesperson Joseph Wendelken confirmed to 12 News.
In the plan, it states that the underlying objective is to “ensure a safe, orderly and clinically appropriate transfer of every resident and to assure the successful adjustment of each resident with a minimum of stress for residents, family and facility staff.”
Read the full closure plan below.