By Madina Toure
The Ozanam Hall Nursing Home in Bayside is planning to lay off approximately 40 employees Monday, according to sources close to the situation.
In a letter dated Jan. 4 to an employee, June Paley, an assistant administrator at the nursing home, said there is a major readjustment in staffing occurring at Ozanam Hall, which has been serving the area since 1971.The home is located at 42-41 201st St.
The home is experiencing a severe financial crisis and has been instructed that these changes have to be made to ensure its survival, Paley said in the generic letter, which alerted the employee that she would be laid off effective Jan. 18. It did not specify who had ordered the layoffs.
“It is very difficult to make changes that impact employees, such as yourself, who have been at Ozanam Hall for so long,” Paley wrote. “Yet these changes are needed so that we can survive and continue caring for our elderly residents.”
Paley also told the employee that she would be advised of her bumping rights by the UFCW Local 342 union. Bumping allows employees with more seniority to take a less senior employee’s job.
The employee, who asked not to be identified, has been working at Ozanam Hall for 14 years. She said the home is laying off some people who have been working at the nursing home for 30 years. There are an estimated 500 employed at the home, according to the employee.
She said the administrators were on vacation this week and that Margaret Monier, UFCW Local 342’s union representative, came to the nursing home last Friday, but has not returned her calls.
“She said, ‘We don’t know what happened. We don’t have any answers because the administration is on vacation,’” the employee said.
She said at least six of the employees who will be laid off work in the kitchen and that the layoffs are not being done by seniority, noting that newer employees will remain.
“We want to know what happened,” she said.
Monier and Ozanam management could not be reached for comment on this story.
Lionel Morales, a spokesman for City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Hillcrest), said Vallone received an anomyous email about the layoffs.
“We got an email from a constituent saying the hall was planning on letting go some of the older staff members, older as in they’ve been there the longest,” Morales said.
Another employee said all employees had five hours cut from their paychecks a few years ago, and that UFCW Local 342 has filed grievances concerning the layoffs.
Ozanam Hall, run by the Catholic Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, is guided by the Carmelite Mission to bring dignity and quality of life to the care of seniors, offering both short-term rehabilitation and skilled geriatric care for 432 residents. Services include skilled nursing, post-acute care and memory/dementia care.
A source familiar with the circumstances said people are upset about the layoffs, noting that about 38 pink slips have gone out and that Ozanam is renting out one of the floors to a hospital to bring in more revenue, she said.
“It’s really expensive,” the source said. “There’s a lot of empty beds. Nobody’s really coming in. There’s usually a five-year wait list on that place and now they’re begging to come in.”
She also said Ozanam was planning to bulldoze the entire block and expand the nursing home but one homeowner held out.
In May 2012, supporters of union workers called on the bishop of Brooklyn to put an end to policies detrimental to patient care. At the time, the union’s 400-plus workers were without a contract for two years and the nursing home said it could not provide a fair wage increase for workers because of economic hardship.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour