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Legislature should put nursing home up for a vote, not up for sale

Posted 3 July 2013 at 12:00 am

Editor:

The State Supreme Court decision recently upholding the legality of the formation of the LDC to sell and privatize the Orleans County Nursing Home was very disappointing to the members of the Concerned Citizens group, but it wasn’t unexpected. And it won’t stop our effort in the least!

This is a group of hard-working, caring, and committed people who decided to draw a line in the sand. No, they do not want our County nursing home privatized. They don’t want the care and well-being of our elderly people opened up to possible charlatans and profiteers who might come in and promise the moon in this community and deliver very little. And the facility, if it is privatized, could be sold over and over again.

We don’t care that half the state of NY has decided to privatize their nursing homes because we believe that all counties were approached by the same profiteers, and we have clearly seen that the result of this has been less good options for seniors. Right now because the facility is public, the people of this community do have a say in what happens. It won’t be the case if it is privatized.

We also don’t feel that the county will save any money if the facility is privatized. When you consider the renovation costs we will be saddled with and the taxpayer subsidies we will be forced to give the new business, that alone will eat up any savings. And then add in the Medicaid costs that we will continue to be responsible for (which will remain unchanged, if not increase), and now subtract the income that used to come to the county which will now be going to the new owner, where will the savings be the Legislature speaks of? The truth is that if the facility is privatized, there won’t be any collective sigh of relief that our taxes have gone down. We likely will never know what the outcome is financially, but the community WILL suffer the loss of this public nursing home. Good quality nursing homes are very hard to come by and we currently have an excellent one.

One nursing home is NOT the same as another. And when you consider that a few more changes to the nursing home, such as opening up the A and B wings for more productive use could help with the bottom line, you can see that all options have not been explored prior to the decision to sell.

The court case was mainly introduced because the Concerned Citizens group would like to see a referendum take place on the issue of the sale of the nursing home. Had the court decision gone in our favor and a referendum ordered, the county may have found it necessary to appeal against allowing a vote of the people! That referendum was not ordered by the court as we had hoped, but it can happen despite that.

We feel that an issue this important – that will impact all of us for many years to come, and considering that a large number of people have actually mobilized to fight the sale – that the only fair way to resolve the issue is to put this before the voters to decide.Once this nursing home is sold, we will never get it back. I understand that Legislator Callard may have said that a referendum would be too expensive, but if you have a large number of constituents upset about a decision, what other method would allow the community to weigh in properly? That option is available because of situations such as this one.

The Legislature is supposed to serve their constituents, and clearly a good number of them are at this point unhappy with their decision. Let the voters decide! This way, whatever happens, everyone will have a voice. And this county nursing home belongs to us all.

Chris Loss
Albion, NY