Stuck In Political Mud: Albany County Nursing Home

May 14, 2013

Albany County Comptroller Mike Conners
Credit [WAMC photo by Dave Lucas]

It's been a hot-button issue: the continuing saga of what to do about the Albany County Nursing Home.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy has been on a mission to privatize the County Nursing Home, favoring a lease agreement with the Upstate Services Group, a company that provides administrative and operational support to affiliated skilled nursing facilities throughout New York. 

McCoy's plan entails handing Upstate the license of the 250-bed nursing home for a 10-year stretch, something he had hoped to achieve by the end of June, when funding for the nursing home is scheduled to run out.

The plan has been hopelessly stuck in committee, which McCoy says costs the county $1 million each month.

Albany County Comptroller Mike Conners touched on the Nursing Home issue last night when he delivered his "state of the Fisc" address.

But “good faith” seems to be scarce:  Legislators have delayed voting as they consider that management agreement deal, deemed “illegal” by the County Executive's office because it would outsource some work currently handled by unionized employees of Albany County.

Both plans involve disputes that have arisen over the fate of nursing home employees, and how many jobs may or may not be "lost." In most cases when a nursing home changes hands, the residents are not tossed out, but, some observers believe privatization puts their care at risk: When Fulton County's nursing home was privatized last year, employees lost their pension plan and health insurance premiums doubled.  New hires were reportedly brought in at reduced salaries.

Deputy County Executive for Albany County Christine Quinn says the proposal to lease and transfer operation of the Nursing Home to Upstate Services is the best choice to keep the facility operating, and has been trying to sell legislators on the idea.   But with no agreement close, Comptroller Mike Conners warned legislators there will be fallout from inaction.

Several New York counties have had their share of "nursing home dilemmas" - Orange County government has been accused of "paralysis" in its dealings with Valley View Nursing Home and the circus atmosphere that has surrounded it... the kind of moniker Albany County leaders may not be able to avoid if an agreement is not reached soon.