“Concerned Citizens” will keep fighting for nursing home

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 March 2013 at 12:00 am
Orleans County Nursing Home Sign

Photo by Tom Rivers – This sign will be used by Concerned Citizens of Orleans County to stress that residents’ annual garbage collection fees are about three times what they spend in taxes to support The Villages of Orleans, a county-owned nursing home.

ALBION – A group of Orleans County residents opposed to sale of the county nursing home are going to press their case to the public, the county Legislature, and may even use the court system to stop a possible sale.

Concerned Citizens of Orleans County met for the first time on March 12, following the Legislature’s Feb. 27 decision to form a non-profit local development corporation tasked with finding a buyer for the 120-bed site in Albion.

“We will have a presence at Legislature meetings, and we’ll be working to organize our friends and neighbors,” said Gary Kent, a member of the group and a former county legislator.

He was joined by about 30 other residents in the meeting March 12 at the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church. The group already has prepared signs noting that garbage collection in the county – at $185 a year – is about three times what the average taxpayer will pay in 2013 to support The Villages of Orleans.

Chris Loss intends to be a vocal opponent to the nursing home sale. Her late mother, Jean Bistoff, received better care at The Villages than she did at a privately owned nursing home.

“There were major differences in the care,” Loss said.

The county has budgeted for an $825,000 deficit for the nursing home in 2013, and that includes using $1.6 million in reserve funds. Legislature Chairman David Callard worries the taxpayer subsidy for the nursing home will jump once the reserve funds are depleted. Taxpayers could be paying to $2 million to $4 million annually towards the nursing home in the near future, he said.

Concerned Citizens say taxpayers owe it to the senior citizens to maintain The Villages as a publicly owned facility. And Loss is skeptical about the grim fiscal prediction from the county. Reimbursement rates and other state and federal support could be increased, softening the local share for the nursing home, she said.

“They’ve floated these numbers before,” she said about the prediction for big deficits. “They don’t know what the shortfall will be. I’m willing to have my taxes go up. We owe it to our seniors.”