Private operator may keep nursing home, but it won’t be the same

Posted 21 June 2013 at 12:00 am

Dear Editor:

Mr. Blajszczak may have read the County’s “Frequently Asked Questions” and accepted them at face value. His faith in County leaders who have let him down for many years is refreshingly naïve.

His second paragraph begins, “First, the county nursing home is not going anywhere.” No one I know has said it is going to disappear, at least in the short term. Actually, if people do not start paying more attention, it absolutely is going somewhere.  Thinking it is not is like saying Charlie Howard’s Santa Claus school is still functional because his home and some other remnants of it are still at the original site.

Yes, Mr. Blajszczak, the regulators will be there checking. If deficiencies become more numerous, they will be noted. If the County Nursing Home’s Three Star rating for staffing declines, it will be reported.  If its Four Star rating for overall quality of care is lost, they will put it on state and federal websites.  But, a nursing home will still be thereunless the new owners decide finding enough private pays in Orleans County is impossible, and they decide to turn it into an assisted living facility.

In the interests of profit, the new owner may replace long term care beds with more profitable rehab beds and begin “mining” hospitals in Buffalo for big bucks Medicare – eligible folks, some of whom might be better suited to hospice care.

Mr. Blajszczak might not realize that each additional rehab bed means one less long-term care bed for an Orleans County resident. That is an inescapable fact. He may be certain that neither he, nor any close friends or family members will ever need long-term care. His comments make it clear that he has great faith in the altruism of private nursing home operators.

He may be under the impressionas many County leaders appear to bethat if you have seen one nursing home you have seen them all. He should call any of at least a dozen “Concerned Citizens” with first hand experience to rid himself of that delusion.
Mr. Blajszczak’s third paragraph is 100 percent spot on.

His fourth paragraph suggested prompting from a “spinmeister.”  “Firms” with slick specialists no doubt understand all the angles.  They get paid to meet minimum requirements as cheaply as possible. They know how to charge residents for basic services, install vending machines, and eliminate Sunday pie. Fortunately for Orleans County residents, the County employs Orleans County specialists, not County Legislators, to provide services economically.

Mr. Blajszczak hit one nail squarely.  A private operator would never have let the old “A” and “B” wings go for five years without turning them into income producing space. Doing so in 2008 would have improved the bottom line and business-savvy types know it. Keep believing someone else will safeguard your interests.

In paragraph five, Mr. Blajszczak repeats an absolutely unfathomable assertion in light of what for-profit facilities are all about. I would ask him to identify one visiting nurse working for H.C.R. who was working for the County prior to that giveaway.

Reading his final paragraph makes me wonder whether he thinks this is all some sort of experiment with a 180-year-old asset.  Does he think we can just start over if it doesn’t work as advertised? After a few decades, you can try leasing a car. If you decide you would rather go back to owning your own, you are free to do so. Selling Our Orleans County Nursing Home to a private operator isn’t quite like that. If it doesn’t work satisfactorily, there will be no “do-overs.


Gary Kent
Albion, NY

Editor’s Note: The letter above was written in response to a ‘Letter to the Editor’ posted on June 20. Click here to read Mr. Blajszczak’s letter.