Public makes plea on nursing home

McCoy’s privatization plan has little support at public hearing

— Proponents of the Albany County Nursing Home and Department for Aging crowded a public hearing before the County Legislature to protest a 2013 budget plan that would bring landmark changes to one or both programs.

The complaints brought to the Legislature Tuesday, Oct. 23, were leveled at County Executive Dan McCoy’s proposed $568 million 2013 budget, which would raise taxes almost 9 percent. The budget includes a plan to privatize the nursing home and many cuts to the Department for Aging.

McCoy’s plan is to lease the nursing home to Upstate Services Groups, a private firm, for 10 years, which will save the county up to $70 million. The government operates the nursing home at a loss. However, citizens and nursing home workers said they are worried privatization would bring with it poor conditions for residents of the 250-bed facility.

Kenny Barnes, who ran for a seat on the Legislature a few terms ago, said at the public hearing one of his main concerns while running for the seat was the Albany County Nursing Home.

Barnes said he was concerned about the treatment under a privatized nursing. His father was at the nursing home for Alzheimer’s treatment and said the facility should be kept “for the people.”

“They had great service there … very nice. I saw how (seniors) were treated there. What worries me is that any time there’s a business that’s trying to make money … money is the top dollar,” Barnes said. “Money is the main concern. All I’m saying is we should really look at this a lot more seriously.”

Andrew Hubalek, director of social work at the Albany County Nursing Home, asked the 39 legislators to question what they “really know about this company.” He said he conducted his own research on Upstate Services Groups and found numerous reports online of neglect and reports of mistreatment of residents at other facilities.

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