Statewide county homes on the decline

The future of the Chautauqua County Home may still be up in the air, but for other county-owned nursing homes throughout the state, fates have been sealed.

In New York state, 33 counties own a total of 35 nursing homes. This is a decrease from 2007, when 37 counties across the state owned a total of 40 nursing homes. And, the number of county-owned nursing homes is still decreasing.

Washington County supervisors voted to sell Pleasant Valley Nursing Home, a 122-bed facility, this past November. In August, supervisors in Essex County voted to close the Horace Nye Home, a county-owned, 100-bed facility. According to news articles from The Citizen in Auburn, legislators in Cayuga County are currently discussing privatizing the Cayuga County Nursing Home. And, The Post-Star in Glens Falls reports officials in Warren and Saratoga counties are also mulling over whether to sell county nursing homes.

Other counties across the state have had nursing homes close down already. In Dutchess County, a county-owned home shut its doors in the 1990s, rather than opting to sell the home. More recently, Niagara County also opted to close the doors of its nursing home, rather than pursue a sale. Montgomery and Fulton counties have recently sold their county-owned nursing homes. And, Delaware County sold its county-owned nursing facility, which was then shut down by the private company that bought it just six years after the sale.

According to an August 2012 study done by the Center for Governmental Research for the Chautauqua County Legislature, like many other counties throughout the state, Chautauqua County is faced with increasing costs, a reimbursement system that cannot keep up with costs and increasing uncertainty about the future sustainability of county-owned nursing homes.

County Executive Greg Edwards has said the Chautauqua County Home loses $9,000 per day, which could be changed if legislators vote to sell the home.

“Instead of losing $9,000 per day we could be earning $2,190 per day and have the opportunity for expanded health care for our seniors,” Edwards said, noting how the sale of the County Home to a private sector company would change the county’s financial climate.

In order for the home to be sold, it would require a two-thirds vote by County Legislators, which stems from a county local law dating back to 1975. The law requires the supermajority vote in order to sell county-owned real property.

Not all legislators in Chautauqua County are on the same page about the sale, however. Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown; Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton; Bob Whitney, D-Jamestown; Tim Hoyer, D-Jamestown; and Bob Duff, R-Sheridan were all against the sale as of mid-October. Other legislators have said they would vote in favor of the sale.

Edwards is still working with potential purchaser William (Avi) Rothner on the proposal for the home’s sale.

A discussion will also be taking place Monday at the Prendergast Library, as part of its Critical Discussion Series. Legislators Larry Barmore, R-Gerry; Cornell; William Coughlin, D-Fredonia; and Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, will participate in the discussion about the sale of the Chautauqua County Home from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the library’s Fireplace Room.