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Synergy Health Centers closing nursing homes amid mounting bills, patient injuries and deaths

State receivers are seeking a buyer for the Braemoor Health Center in Brockton.
State receivers are seeking a buyer for the Braemoor Health Center in Brockton. Gretchen Ertl for The Boston Globe

Fending off creditors and repeated fines for patient deaths and injuries, a New Jersey nursing home company plans to close two of its 10 Massachusetts facilities as a court-ordered receiver works to sell its other properties.

Synergy Health Centers’ facilities in Sunderland and Newton are set to close in February, according to state records.

Synergy bought its first Massachusetts nursing home, in Sunderland, just six years ago. The company was quickly awarded subsequent licenses by the state despite mounting health and safety problems. Financial woes soon followed.

The Globe reported in early September that Synergy had more than $31 million in unpaid mortgage loans and other debts, according US District Court records, and most of its facilities had been placed into the hands of a court-appointed receiver.

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“Synergy is going to be out of Massachusetts at the end of this process,” said John Morrier, a bankruptcy attorney who represents the receiver, KCP Advisory Group. “The receiver is working hard to stabilize operations and to find new buyers.”

Synergy facilities, which stretch from Central to Eastern Massachusetts, are licensed to care for about 1,200 residents. The company did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Synergy has been penalized by regulators for a litany of problems including medication errors, inadequate staff training, poor treatment of pressure sores, and lax infection control.

Arlene Germain, president of Massachusetts Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, a nonprofit patient advocacy group, said she has never seen a company “so egregious in their care and so draining in their finances.”

“They are leaving with a wide path of destruction behind them, harming the workers and the residents,” Germain said.

A Department of Public health spokeswoman said the agency, in addition to its standard inspections, has initiated random visits at Synergy facilities to monitor quality and patient care.

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“The health and safety of nursing home residents is a priority for the Department of Public Health,” the agency said in a statement.

Companies have recently expressed interest in acquiring Synergy facilities.

The court-appointed receiver has given a Massachusetts company, the Pointe Group, approval to buy two Synergy nursing homes: Woodbriar Health Center in Wilmington and Grosvenor Park Health Center in Salem.

The state Department of Public Health must still approve the action, and a judge must sign off on it, Morrier said. He expects the sale to be completed by the end of March.

The Pointe Group owns Eastpointe Rehabilitation in Chelsea and Southpointe Rehabilitation in Fall River, both of which are ranked below average by federal regulators. Its third Massachusetts nursing home, Baypointe Rehabilitation in Brockton, received an average rank.

Morrier said A & L Holdings — a new joint venture comprised of Massachusetts and out-of-state nursing home operators — has been tapped to purchase three other Synergy facilities. Details on A & L Holdings were not immediately available and state regulators have yet to sign off on a deal.

The receiver is also working to find buyers for Synergy’s Braemoor Health Center in Brockton and West Revere Health Center in Revere, Morrier said.

This leaves just one Synergy facility, Park Avenue Health Center in Arlington, under company control. And that’s likely to change, Morrier said.

“They are down to one facility and managing one nursing home remotely from several states away is not a viable business plan,” he added.

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About 400 nursing homes in Massachusetts provide long-term care to roughly 30,000 residents, according to the industry’s trade group, Massachusetts Senior Care Association.

Here’s a list of the Synergy Health Centers

Closing

New England Health Center in Sunderland

Waban Health Center in Newton

Sale pending to the Pointe Group

Grosvenor Park Health Center in Salem

Woodbriar Health Center in Wilmington

Sale pending to A & L Holdings

Merrimack Valley Health Center in Amesbury

Watertown Health Center in Watertown

Worcester Health Center in Worcester

To be sold by receiver

Braemoor Health Center in Brockton

West Revere Health Center in Revere

Still under Synergy control

Park Avenue Health Center in Arlington


Kay Lazar can be reached at kay.lazar@globe.com Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.