By G. Michael Dobbs
HOLYOKE – The Morse Administration and the board of the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke (GAH) are hoping a private company will respond to an upcoming Request for Proposals for the sale of the Geriatric Authority building.
On Jan. 16, Morse and the chair of the GAH board, Patricia Devine, announced the city has come to terms with the board to begin a bidding process to find a buyer for the building. By the end of the month there should be a committee in place to oversee the bidding process.
Morse said the safety and health of the patients there are the city’s “primary concern.”
He added, “It’s time to make a difficult decision. No longer should the taxpayer have to subsidize the Geriatric Authority.”
Morse said the trend across New England is that organizations such as the GAH are closing.
“The numbers don’t work,” he said.
The facility on Lower Westfield Road was opened in 1971, according to its website. Among its services are “short-term 24-hour skilled nursing care, extended care, physical, occupational and speech therapy, hospice, respite, adult day care and transportation.”
Devine told Reminder Publications
there are 66 residences of the nursing home facility and more adults served through a day program.
“It’s a labor of love,” she explained.
“We want to see an individual or group keeping it as viable as possible. We tried so many different things. This is the one we see as the positive,” she said.
Devine added, “The board of the Geriatric Authority has worked extremely hard over the last several years … to overcome a lot of difficulties and trials.”
On the GAH website an open letter to the families of residents has been posted that read: “The GAH is happy to announce that Mayor Alex Morse, the City of Holyoke and the GAH are working together to stabilize the GAH now and in the future.
“In addition, the future may hold another new direction. Mayor Morse has graciously committed to work with us in assisting in the possible sale of the Geriatric Authority of Holyoke. The Board of Directors has put the following directions on the bidding paperwork:
1. That our mission statement remains the same.
2. That we continue as a Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Facility.
3. That any new owners must abide by all zoning ordinances of the city of Holyoke.
4. That the board has the right to refuse any bid that does not adhere to these conditions.”
City Treasurer Jon Lumbra explained that since 2007 HGA was not able to make payments to the city. He added by 2010 the city had covered $2.5 million in expenses for the HGA toward expenses such as heath insurance of employees and retirement benefits.
Lumbra said the HGA “served its mission and its city, but we’re seeing changing times.”