Troy's Take: Genesis: Profits Over People

Troy ClarksonAmy Rader Photographer - Troy Clarkson

As much as any local eatery, The Town House Restaurant defined Main Street and Falmouth Village in the 1970s and ’80s. For decades, really, this downtown fixture, a family business and comfort food haven was run lovingly by a tightknit family. Today, Liam and Deb Maguire and their family carry on that tradition in the same locale. That edifice is a Main Street tradition of family and friends gathering together to eat and make memories.

Herb and Phyllis Riley were at the center of that Town House family. They ran the Town House like it was an extension of that family—their Falmouth family. Their kids, Judy and Peter, worked at the restaurant and managed the business in later years. When son and brother David died tragically in a car accident, members of the Falmouth family pitched in and helped out, manning shifts and providing comfort, just because that’s what family did.

My mom, Donna Stone, and her friend Paula Kapulka were a couple of those Falmouthites who pitched in. Mom had gotten to know Phyllis through the Junior Women’s Club, and Judy lived with her kids, Timmy, Greg and Heather, down the street in Fisherman’s Cove. When I chatted with her this week about those days, Mom recalled the “family helping family” atmosphere, noting that Timmy was also a part of the effort. She recalled Phyllis’s kindness and Herb’s abiding love for his grandchildren. For generations, the Riley family was a story of love. Love for each other and love for Falmouth. I still see Judy and Peter around town sometimes, and each encounter takes me back to my youth, their warm Irish smiles greeting me like I was a 10-year-old carefree kid again. You can’t manufacture that kind of warmth and affection. 

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I wonder if anyone at the Genesis HealthCare corporate office in Pennsylvania knows that story. I wonder if any of them cares. I wonder if they have enough interest in the human beings living in their home to ask or to get to know Phyllis, as she and her lifetime of Falmouth memories now reside at its nursing facility on Jones Road. The news abruptly announced this week that the facility will close in May, less than two months away, means that dozens of stories like that of Phyllis Riley, and dozens, perhaps hundreds, of family members like Judy, who visits her mother there regularly, will have their lives turned upside down in the name of corporate profits.

The flimsy, noncommittal answer from Genesis, when queried on the closing of the facility next to the Morse Pond School that has operated as a nursing home for more than 30 years, was that the competitive health care market has caused them to shutter their doors, and that the decision to close the Falmouth facility was a “strategic business decision,” according to a prepared statement. Eighty-five full-time employees, and more than two dozen per diem employees will lose their jobs with just a few weeks’ notice, and Genesis offers a prepared, impersonal statement from a faraway corporate ivory tower. The whispers that this closing comes directly as a result of the recent vote by nurses to unionize makes Genesis’s actions even more suspect. 

More than 30 percent of Falmouth’s population is over 65. Atria has recently invested millions in a beautiful new skilled nursing facility just steps from the Genesis one, yet Genesis, the largest skilled nursing operator in the United States, expects us to believe that they can’t make money. 

Falmouth still stands by its Falmouth family. Like my mom and Paula did so many years ago, it’s my time to stand up for the Riley family in their time of need, as well as the 75 other families and 85 employees having their lives devastated by greed. Shame on you, Genesis, for making profits more important than people.

When it was first built, the nursing home set to be shut was called the Center for Optimum Care. It’s good that Genesis changed the name, because their behavior is far from optimum. In fact, it’s repugnant. 

(Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at votetroy99@aol.com and followed on Twitter @TroyClarkson59.)

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