The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

October 25, 2013

LETTER: Selling nursing home is way to keep it viable

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Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — Selling nursing home is way to keep it viable

Despite what I keep hearing, running a county government is not a one-issue proposition. We face numerous issues. Limiting yourself to one issue as a candidate is not doing the public a service. Evaluating the whole picture based on a limited view does not lead to sound decision making.

Ninety-four percent of nursing homes in the United States are not owned by state or county government. In fact, U.S. News and World Report does a ranking of all nursing homes in the United States. Thirteen of the homes in Western New York were given an elite ranking by the magazine. Based on the rhetoric, you would think that they were all county-owned public facilities. In reality, none of them are; 12 are private and one is a VA facility.

There are 17 counties in New York State with population of less than 55,000. Only three of those counties own a nursing home; it used to be more. In the arena of public services, this is a high-end, non-mandated item. Unfortunately, it’s one that is getting a lot more expensive.

I realize that this is an emotional issue. But losing millions on this operation doesn’t make sense. If we can see that a high level of service is maintained at no cost to the county taxpayers — aside from their capped Medicaid contribution that every county makes whether or not they operate a nursing home —don’t we have an obligation to see that it happens? Many counties and many with more means than Orleans County, are making the decision to exit the nursing home business for this very reason.

When the county asked for help from the CSEA a while back, we received a copy of the legislature chairman’s letter back from CSEA with a handwritten note on it that simply said, “No thank you!!”

There has been a lot of talk about what the Center for Governmental Research study said. Very little of it has been based on the actual conclusions. There are four major points that were part of the actual conclusions.

1. “Despite a frequent assertion that county homes offer the highest possible quality of care, the data are mixed on this.” (p. 137)

2. “... recent sales of county nursing homes, the evidence suggest that generally low-income and other safety net individuals have not fallen through the cracks or been forced to go outside the community for nursing homes services.” (p. 134)

3. “Residents at the time of sale have been well taken care of and generally, with some exceptions, county nursing home employees seem to have been fairly treated and absorbed into the new owner workforce as appropriate.” (p. 137)

4. “On balance we conclude that it is generally better for a county to sell its nursing home than to either close it or continue to lose significant amounts of taxpayer money, as long as it is able to sell to a responsible buyer meeting carious criteria and expectations important to the county.” (p. 138)

We have been elected to do what’s best for all the residents of the county. That is what we are doing based on all the information. The Villages will be there for our residents for a long time to come. We are saving the nursing home and we are trying to save everything else in the process.

Bill Eick

Orleans County legislator

District 1