PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The union that represents staffers at Charlesgate Nursing Center called upon the state Thursday to step in and prevent it from closing for good.
Davenport Associates, which owns the senior care facility, announced last week that the nursing unit would cease operations by the end of the summer 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 in a statement. “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.”
SEIU 1199 New England, which represents 90 workers at Charlesgate, argues that Davenport Associates has not been transparent regarding the closure.
The union’s vice president, Jesse Martin, said Thursday that employees had not yet received word on the facility’s fate or the transition plan for patients. It also remains unclear exactly when the unit will close.
Martin argues that closing the facility will disrupt patients’ continuum of care, adding that Charlesgate primarily cares for “Providence’s most vulnerable populations.”
He described the center as being a “social safety net” for residents when other nursing homes wouldn’t accept them.
Carolyn Clark, a certified nursing assistant at Charlesgate, said the closure will cause undue stress “…to a population that already has very little control of their circumstances.”
“Our residents deserve stability and dignity, and leaving them without clear answers about their future is the opposite of that,” Clark said.
Charlesgate’s workers, who are primarily immigrant women of color, have been fighting for safe staffing, fair wages and better benefits for years, according to Martin.
“I have been here for 29 years and I was planning to retire in two to three years. Now I have to start from scratch,” med tech and certified nursing assistant MaryAnn Dardeh said. “What’s more, after all these years we are leaving with no severance pay, which is a slap to the face. It is scary and hurtful to serve a company for so many years to leave empty-handed with no advance notice.”
The union is asking the state to place Charlesgate into receivership and assist in the search for a new owner.