August 5, 2013
Ontario County is moving forward with the privatization of its nursing home. The board of supervisors voted last THURSDAY to accept a two-million-dollar bid for the Hopewell facility.
The sale makes Ontario the latest in a string of counties in upstate New York looking to privatization as a solution to the rising costs of operating a nursing home.
Steuben, Chautauqua, and Onondaga counties are among many considering or finalizing the sale of county facilities to private operators.
Dave Baker is a member of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors. He was one of only four who voted against the sale. Baker says both residents and employees are likely to suffer because of the decision.
“When a private concern is chasing the profitability of their organization something has to give. And in this case I think it will be quality and I think it will be the pay for the employees. I hope and pray that we haven’t made a serious mistake here that we can’t recover from.”
The county currently subsidizes the nursing home to the tune of $3 million each year. Baker concedes that’s likely to rise to $5 million in coming years.
But, he says it’s the responsibility of the county to look after its aging residents, not outsource the task to the private sector.
Fellow member on the County Board of Supervisors, Charlie Evangelista, says it wasn’t an easy decision to sell the facility, but a necessary one.
“For me it’s a fairness issue. Should 100,000 people in Ontario County be having to pay $4 - 5 million a year for 80 individuals that may be receiving that same level of care by the private sector.”
The nursing home was purchased by the Centers for Specialty Care Group. The contract specifies that the facility must continue to provide aged care for a minimum of ten years.