Caregivers want Governor and DOH to step in as Charlesgate accelerates closure
“… the management company told us they were closing because they just couldn’t afford to keep the nursing home running,” said Edwina Gobewole, a certified nursing assistant who has worked at Charlesgate for 30 years. “But they are not closing, they are just renting it out to someone else to make more money.”
Over two dozen caregivers at Charlesgate Nursing Center in Providence, who are members of SEIU 1199NE, rallied and marched to the Rhode Island State House to demand Governor Daniel McKee and the Department of Health (RIDOH) immediately put the facility in receivership. Since Charlesgate´s initial announcement on April 28 of their intent to close in July, workers have reported that facility management is rapidly transferring residents to different facilities, despite there being no publicly available approved transition plan by the Department of Health.
Some of these residents, say caregivers, don’t know to where they are being transferred.
The rally began outside the Charlesgate Nursing Center before marching past the Rhode Island Department of Health offices, and ending outside the State House.
“Over the last two weeks, management has packed up and moved nearly 40 residents to other facilities,” said Edwina Gobewole, a certified nursing assistant who has worked at Charlesgate for 30 years. “When Charlesgate first told us they were closing, they said it would be in July. Now 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.
“Davenport, the management company, told us they were closing because they just couldn’t afford to keep the nursing home running,” continued Gobewole. “But they are not closing, they are just renting it out to someone else to make more money. While they have been transferring residents, we can hear construction sounds on the sixth floor as the new renters prepare to move in the building by the end of the month.”
Charlesgate Nursing Center has been a vital piece of Providence´s social safety net for over 50 years, providing nursing home care, low income housing and healthcare services to individuals who are predominately on Medicaid, homeless, and severely ill. With Rhode Island’s homelessness rate having increased by 50% from 2020 to 2022 eliminating Charlesgate services will only exacerbate this trend.
SEIU 1199NE represents approximately 100 members at Charlesgate including Registered nurses, Certified Nursing Assistants, Med Techs, Dietary and Housekeeping and more. Many of Charlesgate´s frontline workforce are immigrant women of color who have been fighting for safe staffing, fair wages and better benefits for years. Charlesgate has offered them no severance package within the terms of the closure.
“I have been working here for 30 years. I have family to take care of and my son is in college. After all these years, they are just gonna turn us out on the street and that hurts,” said Gobewole.
District 1199 SEIU New England represents 29,000 health care and service workers in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Southeastern Massachusetts. In Rhode Island, 1199 SEIU NE represents over 4,000 members. 1199 SEIU NE is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – a union of over 2 million members across the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. SEIU has been a national leader in pushing the growing Fight for $15 and a Union movement.