Beth Abe employees to receive less benefits

The employees at one of the borough’s oldest nursing homes are uncertainabout their future.

After the Beth Abraham Health Services facility was sold by CenterLight Health System to Centers Health Care in April, are leery over a pending benefits agreement.

According to Beth Abraham employees, the newly proposed collective bargaining agreement would reduce employees’ salaries by 15%, reduce staff, eliminate a week of vacation time as well as reduce the numbr of sick days.

In addition, employees will have to transition through a three-month period without job security starting July 10, as part of the agreement.

The rehab facility’s union, 1199, has until Thursday, May 26 to reach an agreement.

If the facility and union cannot come to terms the union will consider a srike action, employees said.

“I don’t know what to expect in the coming months – everything is unknown,” said a nurse of over 20 years who wished to remain anonymous.

The nurse added that under the CenterLight Health System contract, employees were promised a two percent raise in October, which is now off the table.

She also added that employees will not be entitled to retirement funds for at least five years.

In addition, she said that Beth Abe’s parking lots willno longer be free to the staff .

“It’s a very tough situation and a very difficult time for us (employees),” she said.

Last week, about 30 employees gathered in the lobby of the Beth Abraham facility wearing purple and lavender in support of the union.

Centers Health Care legal representatives, who were present, threatened to call the cops if they continued there action, even though a rally or a protest was not taking place.

The union will meet with Center Health Care’s lawyers next Tuesday, May 31.

A nursing assistant of nearly 15 years said, “This facility has not only supported its employees, but also the residents and families of this community for many years,” she said. “It seems like all of that support gone.”

Raphael Schweizer, a community activist said, “For all the positive impact that CenterLight has had on this community in the past, the way they have handled this transaction has been a slap in the face to us.”

A neighborhood staple since the 1920s, the 90-year old facility has nearly 450 beds with three floors designated for short-term rehabilitation and two floors dedicated to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients.

The nursing home also provides more than 100 recreational programs and activities for its patents and visitors each month.

Back in January, it was announced that CenterLight would have to re-pay $47 million after it was found guilty of overbilling Medicaid.

In the settlement, CenterLight admitted to enrolling 1,200 Medicaid beneficenaries who were not eligible to receive managed long-term care.

Centers Health Care was founded in the Bronx in 1996 and is now headed by CEO Kenny Rozenburg, the owner of over 30 nursing home facilities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Centers Health Care chose not to comment for the article until the closing of the Beth Abraham facility deal is finalized, out of respect for the CenterLight, according to a Centers Health Care spokesperson.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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