The Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown.
As New York City-based health provider Centers for Specialty Care prepares to take ownership of the Horace Nye Nursing Home from Essex County Jan. 31, county officials discussed what the endgame would be for the facility’s 130-plus staffers.
Tom Scozzafava (R-Moriah) asked County Manager Dan Palmer at the closing of the county Personnel and Administration Committee session Tuesday, Jan. 18, if employees would get preferential treatment for county jobs or if they’d start on equal footing with other applicants.
“They will go on a preferred list when they’re laid off,” said Palmer. “If a position opens up, we’ll make our decisions based on that preferred list.”
Some of the home’s staff are being offered positions with the new owner, but some want to stay in county employment to keep their health insurance and retirement benefits.
“Are we showing any preference to Horace Nye employees if they’re qualified?” asked Scozzafava.
“Not with CNA positions,” said Palmer, referring to certified nursing assistants. “Never.”
Since the county is no longer involved in the nursing home business, explained Palmer, they don’t see those employees filling positions in county-offered jobs anytime soon.
Those jobs aren’t available elsewhere, said Palmer, but senior clerk positions may become available within the year that Horace Nye staffers can apply for if they’re qualified.
“But this board can’t force the issue,” he emphatically said. “The department heads are the authorities and we [the board] can’t force people to be hired.”
“We strongly encourage you to take a look at their qualifications,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay). “The last thing we want are former Horace Nye employees having trouble finding a job after 10, 12 or 15 years.”
“We can do that,” said Palmer.
Civil service rules, later said Palmer, require former staffers to be kept on the preferred list for a minimum of four years.
Also discussed at the meeting was a series of easements granted to the new owners by the county for the use of thoroughfares and delivery points on public land to and from the facility, said Essex County Attorney Daniel Manning.
The county recently had to use taxpayer money to have the property surveyed to officially determine who owned what.
“The original survey was a mess,” said Manning, referring to a study done in, “sometime in the 1950s.”
“If we didn’t do this, nobody would have been able to figure it out.”
Aside from the easements, the asset transfers are, “pretty much all in line,” he told the assembled lawmakers.
Manning proposed a resolution to streamline the flurry of legal paperwork he anticipates will accompany the countdown that would grant Palmer the power to sign off on relevant paperwork related to the sale.
Only Scozzafava opposed.
“I’m opposed to the sale and have been from day one,” he said afterwards. “It’s the wrong direction for the county to take.”