Farren Care Center in Turners Falls plans to close by year’s end; residents can opt to move to Holyoke facility

  • Mount Saint Vincent Care Center in Holyoke  STAFF FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 8/19/2020 11:20:22 AM
Modified: 8/19/2020 11:20:12 AM

TURNERS FALLS — If all goes as planned, the Farren Care Center will close by the end of the year, and residents will have the choice to move to a facility the center’s owner is looking to buy in Holyoke.

Trinity Health of New England Senior Communities spokesperson Christine Looby said Trinity and Sisters of Providence Ministry Corp., the founder of Farren Care Center, have been in talks about a move for a couple of years. If it happens, residents in the long-term care facility on Montague City Road who are interested would be moved to Mount Saint Vincent Care Center in Holyoke.

Looby said 105 of the 122 beds at the Farren are currently full, and there would be enough room for everyone at Mount Saint Vincent if they all decided to relocate there. Currently, 154 people are employed at the Farren.

iCare Health Network has been managing the Turners Falls facility, which cares for people with dual diagnoses of both medical and mental problems, since the beginning of the year, Looby said.

“Trinity and iCare are currently working on a plan for employees and will be discussing options with them when the time comes,” she said. “As soon as we hear from the state, probably within 60 to 90 days, we’ll start finalizing arrangements to purchase Mount Saint Vincent.”

Looby said Trinity Health has decided it would cost too much to modernize the Farren, so this is the best option.

“The intention is to do the best to serve our residents in the best way possible,” she said. “But a large infusion of cash to bring the building in Turners Falls back to modern standards just didn’t make sense.”

Looby said the Farren is “no longer able to efficiently support the requirements of caring for its more complex residents.”

Like the Farren, Mount Saint Vincent also cares for people with long-term medical conditions and behavioral disorders.

iCare filed an application with the state Department of Public Health to transfer ownership of Mount Saint Vincent from Trinity Health of New England Senior Communities to itself, allowing iCare to establish the site as an available new home for Farren residents who choose to transfer there.

The plan entails making Mount Saint Vincent available for Farren residents before the end of year. As part of the iCare network, the skilled nursing facility in Holyoke would serve individuals with a dual diagnosis of a medical condition and a behavioral health disorder as well as residents with dementia, cognitive impairment and other conditions requiring skilled nursing.

“While this was an extremely painful decision for Trinity Health of New England Senior Communities and for the Sisters of Providence, it was made with careful discernment,” said Janice Hamilton-Crawford, president of Trinity Health.

The Sisters of Providence oversaw the transition of Farren Memorial Hospital to the behavioral care-focused Farren Care Center in 1990. When the Farren Care Center opened, it was unique among Massachusetts long-term care facilities in the quality of care that it provided its patients, according to David Roulston, a Greenfield lawyer who specializes in mental health law, and who has served as guardian for at least 50 Farren patients over the last three decades, and as legal counselor for many more.

“The quality of care between the Farren and these other facilities is dramatically different,” Roulston said. “I’ve had clients go through general nursing homes and finally make it to the Farren. Some of the stories … are just horrible.”

Roulston said he thought the Farren’s quality of care was motivated by its religious orientation, and by its original administrative team. Through the years that he has worked with the Farren, Roulston said, the quality of care has remained high, even as the administrative personnel has changed.

The Farren was especially notable for the individualized attention that it could give its patients, Roulston said. He recalled staff members working to reunite residents with their adult children, arranging for residents to be present at major family events and planning social outings.

“They did amazing things, just amazing things, for the individuals that just never will be duplicated in other settings,” Roulston said.

He said he is skeptical of whether all Farren residents could actually be accommodated at Mount Saint Vincent, and is prepared to advocate to state lawmakers to keep the Farren open, if necessary.

However, iCare and Trinity Health said they would be able to move all Farren residents to Mount Saint Vincent, if they all chose to go.

“This collaboration among the Sisters of Providence, Trinity Health of New England Senior Communities and iCare will assure an enduring, stable, compassionate, safe environment for our most vulnerable citizens,” Hamilton-Crawford said.




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