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Out-of-town owner has made profits the focus at Orchard Manor

Posted 24 May 2013 at 12:00 am

Editor:

I strongly urge all Orleans County residents to continue the fight to save their nursing home from being sold. If it’s sold I’m afraid it will follow in the footsteps of Orchard Manor. Private owners are in the business to make as much profit as possible no matter what it takes to accomplish that.

The first fiasco at Orchard Manor after new owner took over was when an unknown employee “mistakenly” changed insurance policies of most residents, without their knowledge or consent or that of whoever was responsible for handling their loved one’s affairs. This change automatically dis-enrolled the resident from their private insurance and shifted more of the financial responsibility to Medicaid, which shifted more of the cost to you the taxpayer. It also was more beneficial dollar-wise to the new owner.

Most all of us managed to get things changed back with major assistance from Office For Aging but not before it caused major headaches for all involved. The insurance company that people were switched to was sanctioned due to this questionable activity.

The most recent fiasco was Mother’s Day weekend on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Remember how cold it was outside? Little did I know at the time that my mother’s room temperature went down to 60 each of those nights. Even though we visited on Sunday, she forgot to tell me that she had froze the previous two nights and little did she know that she’d freeze for the third night. When someone responded to her call button the first night, she was told that there was no one to call on nights and weekends for such problems.

She also understood them to say that it was not broken like it had been a couple of months before, but that it just wasn’t turned on. Excuse me, did they not listen to the weather forecast??? It should have been on and ready to go when the temperature dipped. NYS Dept of Health requires them to maintain a minimum temp of 68 which they certainly failed to do. When it was broken I think it got down to 63 for two to three nights. That also is unacceptable.

Why isn’t there an emergency plan to maintain heat when something breaks or there is a power outage? Most disturbing of all is to think that they are so busy jumping over dollars to pick up pennies that they don’t seem to care about the well being of the residents. I bet the owners and management had heat on in their homes that weekend.

This is only the tip of the iceberg of happenings/changes since OM became a for-profit business. That’s all it is now is a business to an out of town owner who has no ties or connections to this area other than his new possession that he will squeeze the life blood out of to make a profit.

I don’t know about anyone else but this bothers the hell out of me and I could cry knowing that my mom spent three nights freezing at 60 degrees and I did not know about it until after the fact. I feel that this is elder abuse and I reported it to the NYSDOH and am waiting for them to investigate and reply. After all, if mom lived with me and I failed to provide basic services such as adequate heat, I could be investigated by Social Services and charged with abuse.

Many other changes have also been made at O.M. – some large, some small, and some very subtle or not noticeable to the general public. Some changes didn’t work and things were put back to their old normal, but other changes remain in place.

Some affect the $50 monthly stipend that residents get to keep of their own income to purchase their clothing, haircuts, and other personal needs. Now if the resident wants a snack and maybe a soda to go with it, they have to purchase some from vending machines recently installed. These items used to be included in the monthly fee of $7,620 for a semi-private room, but if you’re looking to make a bigger profit why not take away a $3-$5 per day item and make the resident pay for it?

Let’s assume one might want these items 15 days of the month at $3 per day. Uh-oh, I guess that won’t work as that only leaves $5 for all the other expenses! Many residents did without things for themselves for years to provide for their families and then did right by saving for their retirement. That savings was then spent to pay their own way at O.M. until they had depleted their resources. Now some are back at square one having to do without again whether it be something as crucial as heat or as minor as a snack, but this time it’s to benefit a stranger. BEWARE OF STRANGERS, as this is what you have to look forward to if your local nursing home is sold to outsiders.

Beverly Rowley
Gasport, NY