State prescribes tough medicine

Schenectady Legislature's chairwoman Susan Savage also spoke out against the commission's findings.

"These recommendations would result in dire consequences for infants, women and the elderly throughout the Capital District," said Savage.

Additionally Savage cited the economic impact the mergers and closing would have in the county.

"The closure of Bellevue would result in the loss of 225 full-time jobs and 140 part-time positions and the reduction at Glendale Nursing Home would result in the loss of approximately 100 jobs," said Savage.

"The report's recommendations threaten Schenectady's hospital 'safety-net' for low-income patients, could force frail senior citizens into distant nursing homes, and would eliminate specialized health care for women," said state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna.

Furthermore, Farley said, he would "insist that the Legislature reject this all-or-nothing approach."

In Schenectady County " in addition to closing Bellevue Woman's Hospital " the commission recommended the merger of both St. Clare's and Ellis Hospitals and The Avenue and The Dutch Manor nursing care facilities, as well as downsizing Glendale Home.

Rather than closing the Bellevue hospital, Saile said the answer to the improving the county's health care lies in strengthening the system as a whole.

"We have long wanted to collaborate with other hospitals in the area," she said. "We are poised to step forward and establish a lead in developing health-care policy in Schenectady."

In Albany County, the commission recommended that the Ann Lee Infirmary and the Albany County Home merge, downsize and rebuild a unified facility.

Albany County spokesperson Kerri Battle said the recommendation is in line with what County Executive Michael Breslin had in his proposed 2007 budget.

"Albany County's commitment to long-term care remains strong and clear, but I have been saying for some time that the manner in which we do this needs to change," said Breslin. "So I am pleased the commission supports my plans for a much smaller facility and the expansion of non-institutional home and community-based services."

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