Nursing Home Campaigns

 

Public sector county nursing homes are under attack in every part of New York State.  With just a handful of exceptions county legislatures are putting this important community service up for sale.  Many of these counties are taking unusual and, perhaps, illegal approaches to avoid the accountability of taking this action.  Following are some updates on campaigns around the state.  For more news and information, visit www.betterfornyseniors.com

    Nursing Home Updates

    March 22, 2013

    Orange County – Valley View

    The story of the battle for the Valley View Care Center is almost too bizarre to believe.  The struggle has been going on for several years.  County Executive Ed Diana has made it his mission to sell the nursing home regardless of any barriers – legal, financial or moral.  All the details are too lengthy for this telling but it is a compelling drama.  After attempting to justify the need to sell the County Home and rebuild the County Government Center, the County Executive’s lies began to show. The County Legislature held hearings into the County Executive’s stories while the union painted him as a “Snidely Whiplash” character on billboards.  Faith in Diana’s sale plan began to diminish.  The Home was finally budgeted for all of 2012 after a long fight and the Executive’s reputation plummeted.

    As the 2013 budget came together, it included only 1 month of funding for Valley View.  Eventually, the legislature chose to reject the Executive budget and restore funding.  Naturally, that restoration was vetoed.  The County Legislature voted to override that budget item by a 19-2 majority and funded Valley View for all of 2013.  Here is where it gets weird.  The County Executive decided that the override was null and void and moved to close the Home of his own accord and ignore the Legislature.  The Legislature had to sue Diana. 

    Today, the decision came back from the state Supreme Court and found that the Executive cannot implement any closure plan nor ignore the legislative override.  The decision explains that Diana is not “King” and he may not usurp the power of the legislature or interfere with their responsibilities.

    Chautauqua County Home

    For the second time this year the Chautauqua County Legislature rejected an attempt to sell the County Home.  In January, the Legislature voted on the sale of the Home to Altitude Health Systems in a vote requiring a two-thirds majority.  In that 15 legislators supported the sale, two shy of the two-third majority.  In March, the issue was again raised and the vote was returned in the exact same number.  It was a huge victory for those who have fought so hard to keep the County Home public.

    What made this legislative session particularly interesting was the second resolution of the night regarding the nursing home.  In this case an attempt was made to pass a local law that would eliminate the required two-third vote majority and lower the threshold to a simple majority. 

    One legislator explained the issue this way: “(The 2/3 majority law) was passed to save us from doing stupid things, like selling assets to plug budget holes. That’s why it was passed, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to plug a budget hole by selling the County Home.”  The legislature voted 14-10 against the change to the County Charter. 

     Saratoga County – Maplewood Manor

    On Wednesday, March 19, 2013, CSEA filed a lawsuit against Saratoga County that challenges the creation of the Local Development Corporation and the sale of Maplewood Manor to the Local Development Corporation as a violation of state Not-For-Profit Law Section 1411.  This section of law establishes the purposes and structural requirements for a Local Development Corporation.

     Steuben County Health Care Facility

    The County Home, only four years old and providing services to the elderly in the Bath community with 105 beds was voted unanimously to be sold in December to Centers for Specialty Care.  The County had considered selling the facility ten years ago but instead opted to construct a new $17 million Home that was largely reimbursed by state funds. 

    This is just the latest purchase for Centers for Specialty Care who also have purchased the Fulton County and Essex County skilled nursing facilities.

    Wayne County Nursing Home

    On March 19, 2013, the Wayne County Board of Supervisors voted to keep the County Nursing Home public but contract the food service, maintenance and housekeeping departments to Sodexho.  Despite an active and loud campaign to keep these services public, the Board, in a weighted vote, passed the resolution by 781- 408.