Vote delayed on nursing home's future

Posted at: 05/13/2013 11:15 PM
Updated at: 05/14/2013 9:46 AM
By: Beth Wurtmann

ALBANY - "Maybe some nursing homes are better but do we really want to roll the dice," asked Renee Barchitta.

Barchitta addressed Albany County legislators Monday night, urging them not to privatize the Albany County nursing home.

She fears that her mother, who has lived there for seven years, will not get proper love and care from a for-profit company.

"Private nursing homes open and close, it all depends on how much money they make, that's the bottom line," she said.

Lawmakers listened to a several dozens speakers arguing for or against privatization. County Executive Dan McCoy wants to lease the 250-bed facility to Upstate Services Group, saying it will save taxpayers a million dollars a month.

Several employees at USG run facilities in Amsterdam and Albany praised the company.

"A lot of our facilities from the speakers you heard tonight have been in the same situation have said the are was better, there as more staff, they got better equipment that they needed," said Terri Vantine, of USG.

But he legislature's Democratic majority opposes privatization, instead wanting to hire an administrative manager to run the nursing home more efficiently.

With current funding running out at the end of June, Comptroller Mike Conners threw his support behind the plan for the county to keep the home but hire a new manager, pressing lawmakers to take action.

"You're playing financial chicken with payroll in July five weeks, six weeks away. I don't think the County's demonstrated that they can do a good job with the nursing home because they haven't," Conners told lawmakers.

But a vote was delayed again; the issue sent back to committee - leaving the future of the nursing home, in limbo.

"The consequences of delay are, as we've said and will continue to say, a million dollars a month," said Christine Quinn, Assistant County Executive.

"It's a county nursing home, there's love there's care, and we have to keep it," Barchitta said.

One option to keep the nursing home running is to tap into a contingency fund, while  lawmakers continue to grapple with two very different plans.