Jeff Graham visits his 77-year-old mother every Sunday at Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Eureka. Graham was one of about 20 people who gathered to protest Brius Healthcare Services’ plans to close the facility and two others in Eureka, which would result in nearly 150 patients having to be moved out of the county to new facilities. Graham and other protestors Thursday said they feel frustrated at the lack of information Brius has given them about the closures and what is being done to prevent them. They said they feel helpless.
The curtains were closed and the blinds were shut at Pacific as the protestors waved signs at the passing commuters and chanted lines such as “People over profits, “Senior lives matter,” “This closure will kill,” and “Shame on Shlomo” — referring to Brius’ owner Shlomo Rechnitz.
“Not having anything in this area, that’s just not acceptable,” he said. “The problem that I have for giving guys like these more money is they just come back the next day and ask for more. Greed is a motivator that seems to be killing us now.”
Also among the protestors were healthcare workers, like Eureka resident Kellie Shaner. . Shaner said she recently moved her mother Sandra from a nursing home in Crescent City to the Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center. The move gave Shaner and her grandparents more chances to see her and provide her favorite comforts like a cup of coffee and some apple pie. But now Shaner’s mother faces yet another move.
“My mother is devastated. She’s terrified,” Shaner said. “To increase the miles between us and her for potentially a second time and not knowing where she’s going is terrifying for all of us.”
She said she’s tired of Brius’ “blame game” when she states the company and its owner make enough to prevent the closures from happening themselves.
Eureka resident and activist Pat Kanzler said she has worked as a nurse for about 30 years. When she worked, Kanzler said the staff were not paid well enough and are overworked due to low staffing.
“They just didn’t have enough staff to take care of people, and as the director of staff development that is what you’re supposed to do: train people and make sure people do their job,” she said. “How can you do that if you don’t have enough staff?”
Kanzler also stated the facilities were not compliant with state standards for having enough direct care staff at the facility, and said that the facility would put management on the floor during inspections to make it look like they had enough.