The Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown.
A sub-committee of five will start to take a deeper look at three potential buyers of the Horace Nye Nursing Home.
The Nursing Home Committee recommended that a sub-committee consisting of Lewis Supervisor David Blades, Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley, Minerva Supervisor Sue Montgomery-Corey, Office For the Aging Director Patty Bashaw and Horace Nye Director Deborah Gifford to research and visit each of the three organizations that have bid to purchase the home.
Upon appointing the board, there was discussion over the addition of Gifford to the five.
“I think it does make sense to have Deborah or someone from Horace Nye be a part of this,” North Elba Supervisor and Horace Nye Committee Chair Roby Politi said. “Deborah works for this board and for Essex County and my personal opinion is that she would give us an unbiased view of what she sees. There is nothing that says she would be out of a job because of this.”
While Politi endorsed the appointment, which County Manager Daniel Palmer said was made in part because she had requested to be on the sub-committee, others were skeptical.
“Just because she asked to be on this committee, does that mean that she is the best choice for the committee or if there is another, better choice,” St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency said.
“I have a problem with this committee, at least one of them, but I won't say names since we are in open session,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “Don't you think that we should have someone on this board that is familiar with nursing homes.”
“Deborah Gifford is not familiar with nursing homes,” Politi responded, to which Scozzafava countered, “You want to go into executive session and we can discuss it?”
The committee also debated adding a sixth member from the Department of Public Health to the sub-committee.
“We should definitely reach out to the department where they will be able to collect information and work with us,” Blades said, adding that they could be used more as a resource instead of a member of the sub-committee.
Newcomb Supervisor George Canon said that the committee was a needed step in the process.
“Listening to the discussion that took place here, you are going to have to make that step to make everyone's mind feel better about the process,” Canon said.
Discussion also turned to what the sub-committee should do.
“I would prefer to see a group of the board fan out an do their own analysis in the field,” Blades said. “Talk to the administration and the union involved — even do a community survey because I think that you can find out a lot looking into how the communities view the homes.”
“I think visiting is absolutely critical, but I think we should reach out to the state to get a feeling how the facilities currently owned are perceived by the state,” Corey said. “I think that it is important that we get all of the facts together so we can look at this apples to apples.”
“I can talk to the Office of the Aging directors in the counties where these other homes are operated to get a feel of how these homes are viewed in the community,” Bashaw said.
“You can't just go at one and know what you are looking at. You need to go to two or three,” Bartley added.
“You will also have access to the community, the unions and people who work at these places,” Politi said. “The people who will represent this board will be our structural inspectors in a way.”
Scozzafava said that he wanted to make sure several areas were addressed in the process.
“In any of these facilities, we need to determine how many of these beds are Medicare/Medicaid,” Scozzafava said. “That is critical information that we need to have. Also, regardless of whether the meetings are loaded with one side or the other side, you have to have some public meetings in this.”
Politi said that, at this point, each of the supervisors should know how their constituents feel.
“This has been a topic at the forefront of discussion for two years and has been a topic even longer,” he said. “I know how people in my town feel and I would hope that, as supervisors, you would already know how your constituents feel in your towns.”
Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston said he felt the work needed to be done quickly.
“There should be a time limit because we cannot let this process go on and on and on,” Preston said. “We need to do our research. It is all there in black and white if you do the research.”
“These people are supposed to go out and collect the information and leave their feelings out of it and give us a recommendation,” Willsboro Supervisor Ed Hatch said.
“I think that everyone has had a sense of where they have wanted to go with this,” Canon said. “Does that mean when this committee comes back with information that I will not review that and say, I was wrong, maybe I should rethink that?”
Scozzafava also asked that the members of the sub-committee visit all of the nursing homes involved, including Horace Nye.
“If we are going to look at other nursing home, then I would think the members should go an take a look at the one that we currently operate,” he said.
“I think that Tom's point about visiting Horace Nye as a group is a good idea and could even be used as a test run to what we are going to do when we go out to the other homes,” Corey added.
Politi said that he hoped the committee could have their visits and study done within the next 30 days.