Holyoke Geriatric Authority closing approved by state

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The state is working to help the employees of the  Geriatric Authority of Holyoke after the GAH board voted to close their doors, and the DPH approved.

The closure is effective immediately. The board could’ve taken a loan to keep it open until they can sell the facility, but instead they made their final decision. Residents will have to find a new place and employees will be laid off.

Rory Casey, Chief of Staff to Mayor Alex Morse, told 22News that they reached out to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development after receiving word that the authority’s board voted Monday night to submit a plan of closure to the Department of Public Health. The DPH approved the closure Friday evening.

Casey said that the Department of Labor and Workforce Development has a “rapid response team” working with GAH’s human resources department and CareerPoint to help the employees in this difficult time.

Ann Dufresne of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development explained that the team can respond to most workforce emergencies like this. She says they will provide resources to the approximately 120 employees of the authority, ranging from information on unemployment insurance and available benefits, to tips on how to write resumes. She says that they are working to assess the needs of the workforce at GAH, but noted that it is very early in the process.

In late February, workers at the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke were paid four days late, and during that time, Board of Directors Chair Patty Devine had resigned.

GAH had previously petitioned the state to close back in 2009, but the state did not accept the proposal.

The following is a statement from Mayor Morse on the closing of the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke:

“No one is happy about the situation at the Geriatric Authority. I know the boards’ decision to close wasn’t easy, but was necessary due to the dire financial situation. This will ultimately protect the tax payers of this City, the employees of the GAH, and the residents of the facility.

Now that the Commonwealth has accepted the plan for closure there is a clear procedure in place that will be closely monitored by the Department of Public Health, ensuring the safety of the residents. The ultimate goal of this process will be a smooth transition from the Authority to other local facilities. Families of the residents have been notified and will be an integral part of the process.

My office, in coordination with Rep. Aaron Vega and Sen. Don Humason, has requested the Division of Labor and Workforce Development provide assistance to the 120 employees impacted by this decision. The Division has assembled a rapid response team who will be meeting with employees, union officials and the Authority’s Human Resource personnel early next week.

I want to be clear that the agreement that was signed by the city and the board in January is still in place, and while the closure process may delay the timing of an RFP being issued, we fully intend to move forward with the sale of the building. I, along with other city officials look forward to continue the productive working relationships developed with board members and staff.

As this process moves forward, my thoughts are with everyone who gave their heart and soul to make sure this facility was one that provided quality care and treated the residents with respect and dignity. While this chapter in the Geriatric Authority is closing, their hard work will not be forgotten and they deserve our thanks.”

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