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December 25, 2014
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Nursing home to remain in county hands


Sullivan County legislators indicated that they believe the county should not sell the Sullivan County Adult Care Center, which has been a topic of discussion for the past 18 months.
In a meeting at the government center on July 7, legislator Ron Hiatt said after a lengthy discussion on the topic, “We’re going to try to keep this.”

That was after James Gallagan, the administrator of the facility, submitted suggestions to lawmakers about recommended steps to make the facility generate more revenue. The facility has 160 beds and is operating at about 86% of capacity, and is losing money.

Among the suggested changes that would be intended to attract more patients would be to “more aggressively market” the facility, by such measures as developing relationships with patient-discharge planners who work in the hospitals in the region.

The long list of recommendations included minor changes such as redecorating the facility to make it a “homier and warm environment,” and major ones such as the establishment of a “secure Alzheimer’s unit.” The suggestion about the

Alzheimer’s unit generated quite a bit of discussion because currently none exists in Sullivan County, and some thought it would be a good way to fill a need and generate revenue at the same time.

Legislator Jodi Goodman, who also works at Catskill Regional Medical Center, however, said that the expense of dealing with security issues of the patients would likely outweigh any revenue that was generated.

Still, lawmakers generally agreed that the best way forward is to explore various methods to increase revenue. In New York, the historic mission of county nursing homes, according to the NY Association of Counties, is “to serve any person in need of residential nursing care, regardless of the ability of the resident to cover the cost of the services.”

Priscilla Bassett, co-chair of the Senior Legislative Action Committee, noted that a $5 million payment from the federal and state governments to cover the facility’s bills is due to arrive in the next few days. Previously there had been discussions that the payments, which are called intergovernmental transfers, would be reduced or eliminated.

County manager David Fanslau said the pending payment would cover the facility’s expenses from 2009. Legislator Leni Binder said, “What we need is the state and federal government not to be three years behind in payments.”

Bassett also mentioned the negotiations now taking place in Washington, D.C. regarding the budget and the debt limit. She expressed concern over the fact that Medicaid payments to states might be cut, which would impact the facility, because 80% of the residents are covered by Medicaid.

Also, she said a 5% cut in Medicaid payments to the state would result in a loss of more than 10,000 jobs across the state.