Advocacy Facilities Home and Community Based Housing Long Term Services and Support News Overview

Benjamin Healthcare Center Saga

The news below, on Benjamin Healthcare Center’s announced closing, is listed most recent first.

DignityMA Offers Help to Attorney Feaster

Below are excerpts from an April 5 email sent to Attorney Feaster as he begins to navigate the conditions and options at Benjamin Health Care Center. Best case is for the Center to remain open, and become a safe and dignified home for its residents and a supportive workplace for the staff. In any event, DignityMA is offering our expertise and experience to help ensure the best outcome for the residents and community.

We are very pleased that you have been appointed as receiver for the Benjamin Healthcare Center. You wish you much success in your efforts with the Benjamin.

I know that former Senator Dick Moore, who is a member of the Dignity Alliance Massachusetts (DignityMA) Coordinating Committee, has already reached out to you to offer any assistance that would be helpful to you and the staff of the nursing home.

DignityMA is a statewide voluntary advocacy organization focused on long-term services and care especially in nursing homes. Our participants include experienced clinicians (physicians, nurses, social workers, etc.), elder law and public benefit attorneys, former legislators and public policy makers and managers. ( We have been actively involved as advocates in various closures of nursing homes and assisted living residences throughout the state. We have been openly critical of the failure of state agencies to ensure compliance with their own regulations. We have also called for significant strengthening of the regulations and related protocols.

We have actively supported the Benjamin’s residents, staff, family members, community members, and elected officials in their efforts to secure a receiver, forestall closure, and to continue the operation of the facility. We are ready to aid you as well.

Receivership Approved by Judge

The Receivership for the Benjamin Healthcare Center has been approved via an emergency order. 

Attorney Joseph Feaster has been appointed as the receiver.

Victory! Court Grants Emergency Receivership

April 3, 2024. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights was successful in their suit against the Benjamin Nursing Home Administrator. The Judge has appointed a temporary receiver to run the nursing home. 

Court orders receiver to take over Boston nursing home with ‘intolerable’ conditions (docx)

By Cassie McGrath, Boston Business Journal April 4, 2024

Judge grants receivership for historic Mission Hill nursing home on the brink of closure

Download Judge Grants Receivership article (docx). By Jason Laughlin Globe Staff, Updated April 3, 2024, 8:00 p.m.

A Mission Hill nursing and rehabilitation home that has prioritized care for Black patients was put in receivership Wednesday, a dramatic step that could save the home from a planned closure this summer.

Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Katie Rayburn agreed that conditions at the Edgar P. Benjamin Healthcare Center threatened the health and safety of its residents and appointed as receiver Joseph Feaster, a Boston attorney and chair of the city’s task force on reparations. He will take control of the home’s finances and management to stabilize a facility that has failed to meet payroll four times since November, according to court filings.

The Benjamin’s chief executive, Tony Francis, has said the facility, home to 71 people, is not financially viable and filed a proposal with the state to close the facility by July 1. Francis did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The judge’s decision could be a lifeline for the facility. “Appointment of a receiver is a crucial first step toward stabilizing this venerable institution and ensuring the safety and well-being of the frail and elderly patients who live there,” said Oren Sellstrom, a Boston attorney with Lawyers for Civil Rights who filed the receivership petition.

Sellstrom had argued in the petition that mismanagement was to blame for the Benjamin’s plight, an allegation that Francis has denied. The receiver will help determine whether the Benjamin can be saved.

The decision to appoint a receiver came after a hearing Tuesday in which both the state attorney general’s office and the Department of Public Health voiced support for receivership. DPH had rejected a previous request for a receiverbut changed course after learning the Benjamin was again not able to meet its payroll obligations, lawyers said.

“This creates an immediate danger in the event that employees who are not being paid will stop appearing for work,” said Stephen Davis, director of DPH’s division of health care facility licensure and certification, in an affidavit submitted Tuesday in Suffolk County Superior Court.

In a statement Wednesday, Attorney General Andrea Campbell said her office would continue to look into allegations of the facility’s financial mismanagement and noncompliance with its nonprofit filing obligations.

Adam Littman, the lawyer representing the Benjamin, arguedduring Tuesday’s hearing that the most recent payroll interruption happened after expected payments to the home were delayed, and that the state should allow the current management to move forward with the closure.

“The appointment of a receiver is not going to solve financial issues the facility has been experiencing,” he said.

The petition for receivership was filed last Thursday by Lawyers for Civil Rights on behalf of patients and their families. The petition requested Feaster be appointed receiver because of his standing in the community and his previous experience. He acted as receiver for the Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center for five years starting in 2013, according to the petition.

The nonprofit-run health care center is one of few New England nursing homes with a history of Black ownership and management and serves primarily Black and Latino residents. Its roots go back to 1927 when its namesake, a Boston lawyer, founded a nursing home, originally called Resthaven, to care for people, “without regard to race, creed or color.”

The Benjamin has received high marks from Medicare, but conditions have plummeted recently, according to the petition, which cited unsafe conditions and financial mismanagement by Francis, including questionable investments and loans and a salary for Francis of $628,000 in 2021, four times that of the next-highest-paid worker.

Francis said the home’s finances were decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic and cited inadequate MassHealth reimbursement rates and difficulty retaining workers amid competition from other employers as reasons the facility can’t survive.

The home’s staff, residents, and their families didn’t buy those justifications from Francis.

“It’s an injustice,” said Siena “Maria” Casas, 71, who moved to the Benjamin in 2018. “He’s asking us to leave when he’s the one who should leave.”

A native of Colombia, Casas hasgradually lost her sight and is now blind.

Local politicians, including state Senator Liz Miranda and City Councilor Ben Weber, have been vocal about saving the historic home.

“This is a great outcome,” Weber said in a statement Wednesday. “Now we can get back to the work ensuring that the residents and the staff are treated with dignity and in accordance with the law.”

If the Benjamin closes, its loss would contribute to a steady decline in the number of nursing homes in the state, which reported a net loss of 56 between 2018 to 2023, according to DPH data. Five long-term nursing facilities in the state, including the Benjamin, have closed or filed plans to close so far this year, the agency reported.

Sellstrom, of Lawyers for Civil Rights, said he believes the Benjamin could survive with better management. His petition includes allegations of an investment in cryptocurrency that cost the home $100,000 and loans Francis made to the home at a 12 percent interest rate. Both decisions were approved by the Benjamin’s board, Francis said in emailed responses.

“I put personal funds at risk to cover immediate expenses because the facility has been financially failing,” he said, adding that the interest rate was better than those offered by banks and that he still hasn’t been repaid.

Francis’ 2021 paywas nearly three times what he made in 2017,according to financial filings. In a statement, Francis said the additional pay reflected the difficulty he faced running the home through the pandemic. His income declined to $333,594 last year.

The petition also stated the Benjamin had not paid vendors, was not repairing or replacing broken equipment, and had shortages of critical medical equipment. When the facility ran out of colostomy bags, one elderly resident had to be wrapped in a towel “to prevent feces from going everywhere,” the filing stated.

Francis disputed those allegations, saying a dietitian visits the facility and was on site this past weekend. There was one day when the home had an issue with supplies, he said,and it was able to compensate by borrowing bags from another facility, he said.

Casas, the woman from Colombia, still had her sight when she moved there, which makes it easier to still get around now. Relocating would mean getting to know a new environment entirely by touch.

“I have a little stress because you take me somewhere, and [I’m] just stuck, because I don’t know where to walk,” she said.

Lawsuit Demanding Receivership

March 28, 2024

Download the entire Benjamin Receivership Lawsuit from Lawyers for Civil Rights, Boston. The text below is abbreviated.

Family members of residents at the Edgar P. Benjamin Healthcare Center filed a petition in Suffolk Superior Court, asking for the immediate appointment of a receiver to take over management of the facility, to avoid imminent harm to patients.  The non-profit facility known as “the Benjamin” – created nearly 100 years ago – serves approximately 70 patients, mostly Black and Latinx seniors in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston.

The petition, filed on behalf of the families by Lawyers for Civil Rights and supported by numerous staff at the facility, including the Director of Nursing, cites a litany of dangerous problems caused by mismanagement:

  • The facility has missed payroll on multiple occasions in recent months – once failing to pay its employees for weeks at a time.  This has caused critical staff shortages, with remaining staff desperately trying to meet patients’ medical needs.
  • Vendors have gone unpaid, and medical supplies have not been ordered.  
  • In one particularly harrowing incident described in the petition, the facility ran out of colostomy bags for patients who needed them.  With no ability to otherwise collect fecal matter, staff had to wrap an elderly patient in a towel to prevent feces from going everywhere and fouling the room.
  • “Call lights” next to many beds are non-functional, with patients unable to signal for help in the event of a medical emergency; wheelchairs are in disrepair; and equipment to lift patients out of bed is in distress due to failure to pay vendors.
  • Under-staffing causes meal service and scheduled activities to be delayed or missed. The dietician has not been at the facility on a regular basis, and at least 20 patients have experienced significant weight loss from December 2023 to March 2024.  Weekly risk assessment meetings have not been held since January. 
  • Security has deteriorated with staff reporting unauthorized visitors making their way onto patient floors, intimidating and threatening those in the building. This serious security breach compromises the integrity of the facility and jeopardizes human lives. 

The petition pins the blame for the current conditions on mismanagement of the facility, noting that as recently as two years ago the facility was flush with revenue that nursing homes received due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and continues to receive substantial revenue today.  Earlier this year, 34 residents, guardians, and staff asked the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to intervene to oust the facility’s Administrator, Tony Francis, citing numerous “red flags” about his tenure: 

  • The Board of Directors has dropped from 10-12 members a decade ago to just 3 today – one of whom is Mr. Francis (based on publicly available information).
  • During the same time, the Administrator’s salary has skyrocketed, from $178,000 in 2016 to $628,592 by 2021 (based on the last publicly available figure reported to the IRS). 
  • Board minutes appear to show highly unorthodox conduct, including the Administrator loaning the facility money and being repaid at a 12% interest rate, and $100,000 in lost revenue from investments in a cryptocurrency exchange. 

The Administrator has now asked the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for approval to close the facility on July 1, 2024, but the community has risen up to demand the Administrator’s removal instead.  At a packed public hearing in Roxbury this week, dozens of speakers laid the blame for the facility’s current condition squarely at the feet of the Administrator.

25 Investigates: Judge appoints temporary receiver to take over embattled Roxbury nursing home

By Ted Daniel, April 03, 2024

Benjamin Healthcare Center Plans to Close

March 7, 2024

The Benjamin Healthcare Center, on Mission Hill in Boston, is a long-term skilled facility that has been in operation since 1927, serving diverse seniors and constituencies who’ve historically struggled to find long-term care options in the community. This facility has announced its intention to close on July 1, 2024, and the DignityMA members are concerned for several reasons.

Some key concerns are the lack of options in the area, as well as the lack of oversight, adherence to regulations and consideration for residents that recently occurred in western MA (to read more about this situation, Search “nursing home closures” on this website).

Information on the Benjamin closing

Regulations and DignityMA Recommendations