The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

May 10, 2013

VOX POPULI

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

Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — For nearly two months, drivers along Main Street in Albion have seen protesters in front of the Orleans County buildings during Orleans County Legislature meetings.

Wednesday was no exception, although for the first time in a long time the weather was somewhat mild.

Members of Orleans County CSEA Local 837 and Unit 7950 held signs showing their support to keep the Orleans County Nursing Home a public facility. Ondrea Pate, chairwoman of the steering committee of the union employees who favor keeping the home public, said the message she and her colleagues have been trying to convey is plain and simple.

“We don’t want to go private,” she said.

The major issue, Pate said, is that of residents’ quality of life.

“They will be affected,” she said. “As a public nursing home we are required to accept so many medicaid beds versus private paid beds. In a private facility they are not required to accept as many.

“Consequently, the residents that have medicaid don’t have to be accepted to a private facility and can be shipped off to homes in places like Syracuse, Buffalo, or Rochester,” Pate explained.

Losing elderly residents can be “detrimental” to both the community and the residents of the nursing home, Pate said. A resident who goes elsewhere would not have a system of “family support” nearby.

“Most people in our home know each other,” Pate stated. “Many were born and raised here, and we don’t want them shipped off to other counties where their families need to drive 50 or 60 miles to go visit.”

Pate said she and fellow CSEA protesters have heard “story after story” of residents being placed in different facilities. 

The ongoing protests, she said, appear to be a success so far.

“I think we have way more support than the opposition,” she said as several cars drove by with their horns honking.

“Hardly anyone I’ve met is opposed to us,” Pate noted, adding the cause has “tremendous” support among local businesses, too.

Wednesday’s protest also featured a handful of youngsters and teenagers, something Pate noticed.

“I think it’s wonderful to have young people come out and support Mom and Dad,” she said. “It’s teaching a valuable lesson about standing up for your beliefs.”