“At the end of the day, we are sitting on a rocket ship headed for a planet of fun and riches.”
The quote from Michael Glynn, one of the founders of Monarch Companies, can’t be found in promotional materials for the assisted living facility the firm owns in Beverly. But it likely gives an honest glimpse at where the firm’s priorities lie. The quote referred to the profits Glynn and his partners expected to make in the assisted living industry, and was revealed as part of a lawsuit that accused them of stealing trade secrets from their previous employer.
Monarch bought the former Oceanview assisted living facility in downtown Beverly in December of 2021. Less than six months later, the company served the home’s 67 residents with what are essentially eviction notices, telling them they have 90 days to move out. The stated reason for the full-scale ouster was that it would allow Monarch to fully renovate the building. The owners, however, refused to guarantee the residents could move back in when the work was finished.
That essentially leaves almost five dozen elderly residents, many of whom are living with dementia, less than three months to find specialized housing in a complicated, confusing system. The eviction falls especially hard on those receiving so-called PACE funding. PACE stands for Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, and it is administered by MassHealth and Medicare. Its reimbursement rates are lower than private insurance, which means PACE residents could cut into Monarch’s bottom line. The company said it has not decided whether it will accept PACE clients when it reopens.
The most shocking aspect of this is that the whole procedure — from deciding to kick frail elderly out of their homes, to giving them a mere 90 days to find a new place to live, to refusing to accept less-than-premium reimbursement rates — is completely legal. There is nothing in state law to protect seniors from essentially being turned out on the streets. What’s happening in Beverly could happen in Newburyport, or Haverhill, or Gloucester.
Paul Lanzikos, the state’s former elder affairs secretary and former longtime executive director of North Shore Elder Services, said he has never heard of an assisted living facility forcing all of its residents to move out. He called the move “outrageous.”
“This is not any average population that’s being displaced,” Lanzikos told reporter Paul Leighton. “These are frail, at-risk individuals and disrupting them in even relatively modest ways can be problematic.”
David Tamilio, whose 88-year-old mother lives at the Beverly facility and is on the PACE program, told Leighton it could cost an extra $2,000 to $3,000 per month for his mother to go into a facility that doesn’t accept PACE.
State Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, and state Rep. Jerry Parisella, D-Beverly, met last week with Elizabeth Chen, the state’s secretary of elder affairs, in response to the situation. And Monarch has agreed to offer residents some help finding new places to live, and improved reimbursement for moves. But it’s too little, too late.
Lanzikos favors regulations that would require at least 12 months notice of a displacement, full coverage of moving costs, and ongoing emotional and social support for residents until a new location is found. Residents should be guaranteed the right to return to their facility when the renovations are completed, and also be assured that rents will not be exorbitantly increased.
That’s a good start, and would offer people like Patty Lynch some peace of mind. Lynch’s 77-year-old father, Jim, has dementia, diabetes and mobility challenges. He relies on staff to help him shower and take insulin. Patty Lynch called his forced move “terrifying.”
It didn’t have to be that way. The state should have had regulations in place to protect the vulnerable among us. Instead, as Tamilio said, “It’s all about money.”
It is time for that to change.