Hopefully, some progress

Some good ideas and good points about the care center/CHHA

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 11/25/20

MONTICELLO, NY — The most recent meetings of the county legislature led to a lot of discussions, some of them angry. There’s a lot to digest in relation to the leasing of the …

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Hopefully, some progress

Some good ideas and good points about the care center/CHHA

Posted

MONTICELLO, NY — The most recent meetings of the county legislature led to a lot of discussions, some of them angry. There’s a lot to digest in relation to the leasing of the county’s adult care center and certified home health agency (CHHA) from the executive committee and full legislature, but here’s a start: 

Can the care center/CHHA be sold? 

The legislature has repeatedly said that it only intends to have it leased, but sale language remains in the resolution that transferred the ownership of the care center to the local distribution company (LDC).

Commenters have also repeatedly pointed out that, as long as the language is there, they feel like it could be sold. 

“Who has the ultimate last say on selling the nursing home?” asked legislator Joe Perrello in the November 19  executive committee meeting. “Is it the LDC or a supermajority of the legislature? Because if it’s the LDC, then [the sale language] has to come out.” If the legislature still has the final decision, it can stay in, he said. 

“The LDC now owns the Sullivan County Adult Care Center,” said county attorney Michael McGuire. “The resolution gives to the LDC the authority to lease or sell. The charge is to lease. The request for proposal (RFP) is to lease, not to sell.” 

The copies of the RFP that commenters had downloaded contained sale language, resident Cat Scott said. 

“To change that resolution, you need six votes to take it out of the LDC, to bring it back to the board, and then we can change it and then we need six votes to put it back in,” said Doherty. “I love all of you, but I don’t know if I trust you to put it back in.” 

“So the LDC can sell it at any time,” Scott said.

“Our intention is to lease... and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Doherty said.

The LDC board can say, “Take it out,” said McGuire. “They could voluntarily give up the opportunity to sell it if they wanted to.” 

Discussion spilled over to the full legislature meeting. Perrello suggested a two-part resolution that would take out the sale language and ensure that the care center/CHHA would be moved back to the LDC. “We cannot sell this nursing home,” he said to applause.

McGuire had suggestions. The resolution that moved the facility to the LDC “also provides that this body can take it back with a supermajority,” he said. “Modify the charge and return it, or the LDC can pass a resolution to modify the charge that could be done through a memorandum of agreement (MOA)” that would take a majority of the LDC.

The next meeting of the LDC is Saturday, December 19.

Votes reconsidered...

The original resolution passed 8-1 on August 13, with only legislator Luis Alvarez voting no. Since then, several legislators have admitted they didn’t read the new resolution carefully. Chair Rob Doherty has reminded listeners that he asked fellow legislators repeatedly if they read it and if they agreed.

Part of the problem seems to be the rush to change from selling the care center to leasing it (and the CHHA, which was added on). “Listen, guys,” said Perrello. “Rob said we needed six votes to change the sale and it caught me off guard... there’s got to be six people in this legislature” who don’t want to sell. He called on the board to fix it. 

“I don’t want to sell it either,” said legislator Alan Sorenson. Legislator Ira Steingart has also said that he doesn’t want to sell, and that he felt the whole process was rushed. “I made a mistake,” he said now. “I also don’t want to beat up my peers.” He called on the legislature as a whole to work together.

Livestreaming the LDC meetings?

Probably not. Doherty said that the license is for the use of the legislature, and if the LDC wants to spend $16,000 for a new license, they certainly can.

Some extra points

Resident Ken Walter asked if the public could see the management letter for the care center. “The legislature gets it,” he said. “We have no idea what the problems are... it’s our thing, something we own, something we pay for.”

Resident Dave Colavito had a deep-dive presentation, getting into the intricacies of Medicare ratings and pointing out that comparing the county to Montana, which Doherty did at the November 12 health and family services meeting, was too simplistic. And, in fact, Montana’s CHHAs are ranked only slightly higher than Sullivan County’s, per Medicare’s Quality of Patient Care ratings, Colavito noted.

Doherty also talked about Delaware County, NY. It has four CHHAs (if you input 13754 for a zip code). Two are rated 2.5 stars, and two are 3.5 stars. 

There was an early-morning protest at the government center by people supporting the care center and CHHA. “We ran a drive-in protest,” said Scott. “Thirty-plus cars [organized] in 36 hours.” The protest allowed concerned people to show their support and not risk getting sick. Read more about “Honk for Healthcare” on page 8.

Scott also said that there would be a parade outside the care center on Sunday, November 29 to cheer the residents and remind them that people care.

To watch the county legislature meetings, visit www.bit.ly/scmeeting

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