To the Valley News:
There appears to be a campaign underway in New York State to privatize county nursing homes. This effort seems to involve specific marketing/brokerage firms specializing in commercial real estate investments. These firms engage in predatory behavior by canvassing counties that are experiencing financial difficulties; and convince them that they have the answers to their financial woes.
Then begins a series of events: It is reported by some government officials that the nursing home has (or will have) financial difficulties. Recommendations made by staff and/or consulting companies to improve revenue and efficiency are ignored. This creates an orchestrated problem that demands resolution. County officials secretly meet with Marcus and Millichap (or other) real estate firm. County home administrators are given a directive to NOT assist their residents or employees in efforts to stop the sale process. Community residents offering their support are dissuaded from providing assistance. The perfect buyer materializes and within several months the fast-track sale is complete. In time, staffing is cut, wages and benefits are cut, and Medicaid beds decrease, despite stipulations. Suddenly this company is generating millions of dollars of corporate profit (for investors) that somehow eluded the county facility.
As you may know, investment real estate brokers will sell a facility to multiple investors that hide under a cloak of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Limited Partnership (LP). These legal entities often have many layers that decrease or eliminate accountability and responsibility. This makes it difficult or impossible for residents , families, and policing government agencies to bring legal or regulatory action for recurrent abuse, neglect, or deficiencies.
There are past and recent studies that report significant quality of care issues associated with for-profit nursing homes. The 2011 Government Accountability Office study generally found quality of care in for-profit nursing homes "predictably appalling". The University of California, San Francisco 2011 study focused solely on staffing and quality of care in for-profit nursing homes. They report "poor quality of care is endemic in many nursing homes, but most serious in the 10 largest for-profit chains". Center for Governmental Research, Inc., has reported on the attributes of county facilities that (although not perfect) tend to provide better quality of care. Unfortunately, their findings on the unique role of county homes have been ignored at the state level.
Wrong-minded, short-sighted officials together with corporate greed are putting our most vulnerable population at risk. This is often occurring in areas where the Medicaid need is the greatest. Many enlightened individuals studying these trends clearly see the ramifications of privatization. If allowed to continue, this trend will result in loved-ones having no place to go or even displaced to other states. This should be alarming to anyone representing the pubic-at-large. There must be some effort by government officials in reaching a middle ground for keeping our county nursing homes. They are vital to our future by protecting those most in need of our help, and by guaranteeing a solid foundation to the local economy by offering family sustaining wages.
Stop this destructive scheme of privatization before it's too late.
Celeste Beeman, Port Henry