Healthcare Lay-Offs; Leadership Change; Help for Refugees

March 28, 2017 — Partners HealthCare announces lay-offs at Neighborhood Health Plan amid low reimbursements, high drug costs...Home Health Foundation president and CEO to Retire; Karen Gomes to step into the job...United Way of Hampshire County launches fund to assist refugees.

Partners HealthCare Announces Lay-Offs at Neighborhood Health Plan

Citing insufficient reimbursements for Medicaid patients and high drug costs, Partners HealthCare, a Boston-based nonprofit that operates the state's largest hospital and physicians network, last week laid off 35 people from Neighborhood Health Plan (NHP), which it owns.

The staff reduction, about 6% of the NHP work force, followed a $17 million operating loss by NHP in its first quarter that ended Dec. 31, according to a report in the Boston Business Journal.

"Neighborhood subsequently paused enrollment for Medicaid patients in October, and has yet to un-freeze them," the Journal reported.

NHP ended fiscal 2016 with a $104 million operating loss, after a $16 million operating loss in fiscal 2015, and a $202 million operating loss the previous year, the publication reported.

Home Health Foundation President and CEO to Retire, Successor Named

Home Health Foundation a nonprofit based in Lawrence that operates Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc., announced that its president and chief executive officer John G. Albert will retire, effective June 1.

Succeeding Albert will be Karen Gomes, currently vice president of clinical services for Home Health VNA and chief clinical officer of Home Health Foundation.

Mary Jane Thomas, chair of the board of trustees, said, “During her five years at Home Health VNA, Karen has assumed progressive leadership roles throughout the agency, developed and implemented innovative programs in chronic disease management and telehealth and led transitions of care and quality improvement programs. She also has demonstrated a firm grasp of industry issues and initiatives."

Thomas said that Albert, is seven years as CEO and more than 20 years as a board member, "led the agency with honor and integrity, while expanding the depth and breadth of home health and hospice services."

Gomes earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Regents College and a Master of Science degree from University of Massachusetts. She has more than 18 years of experience in home health and hospice care.

Prior to joining Home Health VNA, Gomes was Executive Director of Home Health Services at Northeast Senior Health where she was responsible for the start-up, growth and development of their Medicare certified home health care agency.

United Way of Hampshire County Launches Fund to Assist Refugees in Northampton

The United Way of Hampshire County, based in Northampton, today announced the creation of a fund to assist refugees who settle in Northampton.

United Way will oversee the fund to ease the transition of the 51 refugees from war-torn and persecuted regions including Syria, Iraq, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo into Northampton over the next few years. Smith College helped to launch the fund, pledging $20,000 to it over two years

Refugees will be assisted by Catholic Charities with community support from the Welcome Home Steering Committee, an advisory group of stakeholder organizations, clergy and individuals from Northampton.

United Way Executive Director James Ayres said hundreds of people have signed up to volunteer to offer assistance to the new city residents, but many have also been seeking a way to offer financial support. “We see tremendous good will in the community around welcoming these newcomers, and we’ve been thrilled to do our part to assemble and nurture the necessary network of support,” he said.