MONTICELLO, NY — Rain poured down and the temperature dropped, too. Cars lined North Street, lights on and engines running as their drivers hurried into the county government center to vote …
MONTICELLO, NY — Rain poured down and the temperature dropped, too. Cars lined North Street, lights on and engines running as their drivers hurried into the county government center to vote early.
Meanwhile, the October 29 meeting of the Sunset Lake Care Center Local Development Corporation (LDC) went on upstairs.
Discussion ranged from the inconsistent language in the resolution, the status of whether the care center and the county’s certified home health agency (CHHA) will be transferred to the LDC or not, a recent letter from Sen. Jen Metzger stating that proper procedure has not been followed as to involving the state in the CHHA transfer, to livestreaming the meetings and the next step in the process.
No time to read? Here’s the short version:
1. The resolution: Can we clean it up?
2. The status of the transfer: Not.
3. Sen. Jen Metzger’s letter: Premature.
4. Livestreaming the meetings: Unlikely.
5. Next steps: More meeting, but Harris Beach, the retained attorneys, will attend.
And here are the details
The resolution and status of the transfer
Yes, the future of the care center was amended to the hiring of a management company, rather than a sale. That would include the CHHA. But past LDC meetings have included tweaks to the mission statement that got rid of the sale language (which somehow survived the change in mission). LDC member Nadia Rajsz asked, couldn’t the August 13 resolution be cleaned up too, making sure all lingering references to “sale” or “buyer” were taken out?
People are worried, she said in a later interview. “To put them at ease, let’s do the right thing for our residents and clean up the resolution.”
It was unclear whether that would happen or who would be responsible for it.
The transfer of the care center and the CHHA to the LDC
“Either the care center is transferred or it isn’t,” Dave Colavito said in public comment.
Many observers had been under the impression that the care center and CHHA transferred to the LDC upon its creation. Apparently not.
In a short interview the day after the meeting, LDC chair Lowell Feldman explained that “there has not been at this point any transfer.” They’re waiting on the operating certificate (those are issued by a government to an agency that lets them provide a service.)
The transfer in question is a “realty transfer” to the LDC. Feldman said. The LDC itself is a kind of middle manager, putting out the request for proposals, reviewing the results, answering questions, and then “the LDC submits up to three potential candidates to the legislature.” He added, “We will do some serious vetting of the applicants.”
The final decision is in the hands of the legislature.
Sen. Metzger’s letter
In an October letter to the Sullivan County Legislature, Metzger voiced concern about the state-mandated procedures in regards to the county’s CHHA.
“It is my understanding from the NYS Department of Health that the transfer of the county’s CHHA to the LDC cannot be finalized until it is approved by the Department of Health’s Public Health and Health Planning Council,” she wrote.
“The process laid out in both state law and regulations must be followed in order to have the sufficient state-level review and public input that such a significant transfer deserves,” the letter continued.
At the last executive committee meeting, Rajsz followed up, asking whether the Department of Health had been notified about the transfer.
“That filing can’t be done until a new manager takes over,” said county attorney Michael McGuire. And right now, Sullivan County is still the manager, he said.
At the LDC meeting, he added, “Sen. Metzger is correct but premature... [the CHHA] may wind up being transferred, it may not.” The paperwork requirements will kick in when that transfer happens.” As of November 2, zero has changed with respect to the CHHA.
The meetings and what’s next
The Health Services Advisory Board will attend an LDC meeting, tentatively on Thursday, November 12. And attorneys Harris Beach will attend the next meeting, either in-person or electronically.
At the moment, the proceedings of the LDC are available on their site (www.sullivanny.us/Departments/sunset-lake-local-development-corporation) and on video on Cat Scott’s Facebook page.
A sampling of public comment
Most commenters expressed sympathy for the LDC board, who they said inherited an ambiguous mission. “It was dumped on you,” said Dave Colavito. “I’d like to believe we’re dealing with honest brokers.”
On the livestreaming, Grahamsville resident Ken Walter said that it’s possible that all public meetings will require livestreaming. He also said that discussion about candidates should really be in public, not in executive session.
“We’d get calls from people who found themselves... needing help,” said Martha Scoppa, retired head of NY Connects in the Office for the Aging. Nurses for the CHHA, she said, “care about their patients,” and their work keeps people out of nursing homes where care costs more and COVID-19 spreads rapidly. “I see no reason why the CHHA should be transferred to the management of a for-profit business.”