Orange County Executive Edward Diana’s cynical veto of funding for Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation in Goshen, NY represents politics at its worst and continued public deception. Orange County is legally obligated to operate and, obviously, fund the operation of Valley View until and unless the New York State Department of Health approves the closing or sale of the facility. As has been widely reported, this cannot happen for many months or more and, during that time, the county remains legally obligated to run the facility and must appropriate money for that purpose.
More broadly, the legislature recently adopted a budget calling for Valley View’s maintenance as a county facility for next year and voted to replace the current private administrators of the nursing home with another group. Diana failed to implement the resolution in a timely fashion. The purpose of this resolution was to ensure that the facility has a fair chance to operate and to correct the numerous documented errors made by the current operator—errors that caused a failure to obtain available reimbursements—and many inefficiencies in operation.
Diana has failed to promptly return to the bargaining table with the Civil Service Employees Association and reach consensus with union negotiators on changes that would likely yield several million dollars in real-time benefit to the county. Having failed to do this, Diana attacks the proposed union “concessions” as illusory. Again, he has failed to act and lead.
At bottom, most county residents believe, as I do, that we retain a strong moral obligation to the seniors who call Valley View home. We have a growing undersupply of skilled nursing care facilities and must protect the beds we have. If anything, the next county executive must commit to improving the quality of care at Valley View, not diminishing it. This can and will be done within the budget, but it will never be done by a county executive who decided a year ago to shutter the facility.
I implore all legislators to vote to override Diana’s veto and I pledge that Orange County citizens will ensure that those who vote to close this facility will face stiff political opposition in 2013.
Michael Sussman, Esq.