Westfield nursing home closure this summer will affect 71 residents

Feb. 23, 2023 | Miasha Lee

WESTFIELD — Governor’s Center is one of four local nursing homes that announced this month it intends to close, forcing 71 residents of the Westfield facility to find a bed elsewhere.

On Feb. 7, the Northeast Health Group Inc. released this statement: “It is with deep regret that we have given formal notice to the Department of Public Health of our intent to close Governor’s Center in Westfield, Chapin Center in Springfield, Willimansett Center East and Willimansett Center West in Chicopee. The facilities will work collaboratively with the department on these closures.”

The Governor’s Center, at 66 Broad St., Westfield, has been operating for over 40 years, providing post-acute services, rehabilitative services, skilled nursing, and short- and long-term care from physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Northeast Health Group announced it intends to close it by June 6.

State Sen. John Velis, who represents Westfield, said he is “deeply concerned about the recently announced planned closure of the Governor’s Center in Westfield. Residents and families throughout Western Massachusetts depend on nursing homes, which employ hundreds of residents from our communities, as well.”

Since these planned closures were announced, Velis has shared his concerns with Northeast Health Group, the state Department of Public Health (DPH), and with the media directly. Alongside the rest of the Western Massachusetts delegation, he said he will continue to advocate for the residents of Governor’s Center however he can. Velis said he hopes residents can continue to get the care they need locally, without having to be moved to a geographic area that is inaccessible to their families.

As part of their closure plan, these homes must assist residents in finding appropriate placement.

“My office has heard from many residents and staff who have begun the process of looking into other facilities,” Velis said. “While we continue to assist residents, we are also continuing to advocate with DPH to ensure that every resident has appropriate placement by the closure dates and does not lose access to the care they depend on. The well-being of these residents is and will continue to be my top priority.”

Velis said there have been previous nursing home closures, but these four happening at the same time is deeply concerning for their region. There is a standard process that the homes must follow, including communicating with stakeholders, a public hearing with the DPH and submitting a closure plan to DPH for approval.

These facilities have largely cited regulations put in place by the Department of Public Health during the coronavirus pandemic, especially reductions in the number of beds allowed per room, as the reasoning for their closures. A Feb. 6 letter from the Governor’s Center said the new rules had forced it to reduce its capacity from 100 beds to 75 beds, leading to “the facility’s financial insolvency.” The letter said the Governor’s Center stopped admitting new residents on Feb. 1.

DPH’s public hearing on the Governor’s Center closure will be conducted by conference call at 6 p.m. on March 2. Participants should dial 888-390-5007 and enter passcode 3522632. The same hearing will also address Chapin Center.

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