The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

November 15, 2013

Nursing home still an issue

By HOWARD BALABAN howard.balaban@journal-register.com
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — The Orleans County Legislature continued to hear a variety of opposition to the sale of The Villages at its meeting on Wednesday. 

The first to speak wanted to know if the county was in fact contradicting a resolution it passed many years ago.

Al Capurso, a local historian, spoke in open session and cited a resolution passed in 1830 that created responsibility for the county infirmary, which eventually became the nursing home. Capurson said the resolution, passed by the current legislature’s predecessors, made him believe it was worthy to pose the question to the current board about the sale of the home.

The legislators said they were looking for the document in question and would respond to his query once it was found.

Also addressing the legislature was Gary Kent, a vocal proponent for keeping the nursing home public. Kent, a former legislator, referred to a resolution that would eventually pass unanimously on Wednesday.

“I disapprove of this,” Kent said, referring to the renewal of an agreement between The Villages and Gillick Advisors, LLC. Kent said the current administration at the nursing home was at least partially responsible for the money the home was reportedly losing.

“Occupancy has been depressed; it was last reported at 93.5 percent,” he said. “In 2012 it was 92 percent.” He further stated that multiple studies have shown that a nursing home should operated with an occupancy rate of at least 95 percent to be considered “acceptable.” 

Later in the meeting, Legislator George Bower addressed the occupancy topic. He said the rehab center at The Villages affects the occupancy rate.

“We have people in and out daily and weekly,” he said. “We have to have openings for people, so there are rooms always open.

“(Occupancy) has been better in the last few months, as high as 117, but we only have so many beds and you can’t just open additional rooms,” he added.

Dee Smith, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Orleans County, also addressed the legislature. She read them a handwritten note from a resident at The Villages that ended with the words, “Don’t close The Villages.”

Smith said she was “disappointed” that the only fellow Concerned Citizen who managed to get elected was Fred Miller and that she wished more had won seats at the county level.

“I feel there are things that need to be exposed…I feel there are some rights being taken away,” she said. “I don’t want to go into a privatized nursing home, from what I’ve learned.”

The nursing home topic continued with Al Lofthouse, who asked when it became a policy that visitors to The Villages must have had a flu shot. It was explained by county officials that the policy became official when the state health department made it so this year. However, they noted the only people who must have had a flu shot are employees, patients, and volunteers and staff. Otherwise, they must wear a mask. According to the officials, there are not set regulations for regular visitors.

One other county resident spoke up, and he said the nursing home should not have to operate at a profit, but rather at cost like other county departments.

“We should take care of our elderly,” he said. “The county should keep it.”

In other county business:

• The Legislature approved an agreement with UGI Energy Services, Inc. for the purchase of natural gas. The cost is $.0835 per decatherm, which is the unit gas companies use to measure how much gas is purchased. The cost to the county represents a savings of between 7 and 8 cents per unit depending on how harsh a winter the area gets.

• A public hearing was set for 4:25 p.m. Dec. 11 to discuss an amendment to the local law that imposes a hotel and motel room occupancy tax in the county.

 • In authorizing a payment for the capital project that will see several new radio towers erected in Orleans County, it was announced that the construction of those towers will begin in two or three weeks.