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The Headache at Golden Hill

March 27, 2011

One of Ulster County’s 7 county run nursing homes, Golden Hill, is now officially over-the-hill.  The shoddily built, not well maintained facility, which costs taxpayers over $3,000,000 annually to run, is in need of some major overall in order to stay open.  With county commissions looking at options over the last 6 months or so, a number of studies and reports have been floated, with options ranging from spending megabucks (upwards of $85+ million to rebuild) to selling the bed licenses, grounds and building lock, stock and barrel, and having the county get out of the health care business (well, at least this facility) altogether.  Golden-Hill-Special-Task-Force-Report-Nov-2010

GardinersRight and the Tea Party movement are firmly behind smaller government and not having any government, at any level, be involved in the delivery of health care, at which it is both ineffective and expensive.  So, we think that getting rid of Golden Hill is a “golden” opportunity for the county to stop the flow of red ink from Golden Hill, while turning services over to private groups that have expertise in nursing and elder care and that can run much more cost efficiently than the county.    Here’s a letter that I’m sending to County Executive Mr. Hein, as well as my district legislators Ken Ronk, Catherine Terrezzi and Jack Hayes:

Dear Mr. Hein and county legislators:

I represent GardinersRight, which is a tea party group supported by over 550+ voters with about half of them living in Ulster County.  We believe that governments, at any level from federal to local, do not have proper authority to be involved in private healthcare in any way.  In particular, I refer to the decision that needs to be made regarding the Golden Hill nursing home facility in Kingston, NY.  While I understand that the county has been running this facility since the late 1960’s, it is run at a constant deficit to the taxpayers and is currently in a poor state of maintenance needing major upgrading.

GardinersRight and it’s supporters believe that this is a good time for Ulster County to divest itself of this facility which is a huge drag on taxpayers which will only continue to cost more as time goes on.  It’s time to cut the taxpayers losses and sell the bed licenses, facility and land which should be to the most capable private bidder.  I believe that in the long run, this will benefit not only the taxpayers, but the patients and their families and caregivers.

Over time, the county should take itself completely out of the health care business, but at the moment it should take advantage of a golden opportunity presenting itself at Golden Hill.

Sincerely,

Pamela O’Dell

It’s time to pull the plug on programs that cannot be successfully run by governement, and let the private sector take over. A decision about Golden Hill will be made soon.  Please contact your county legislators and County Executive Mike Hein soon and tell them how you feel.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 27, 2011 6:33 pm

    I sent the following letter to my fellow Legislators. A Partnership approach whereby Ulster County sells the “Nursing Home License” and provides land, both at an attractive price would accomplish two things;
    1. Insure that the “Skilled Care Beds” remain in Ulster County. There is no gaurantee the purchaser will keep the “Beds” in Ulster County once the “License” Is sold unless we make it attractive for them to stay.

    2. The cost of operating the facility would be transfered to the Purchaser of the “License”. This should result in substantial saving for County Taxpayers.

    Golden Hill Health Care Center
    Dear Colleagues,
    The New York State presentation to the Ulster County Legislature on Friday March 11, 2011 regarding Nursing Homes was enlightening. A few of the more significant policy trends that I think I heard Mr. Kissinger relay to the audience are;
    • Private Nursing homes receive more funding than County Nursing Homes
    • Private Nursing Homes are allowed to pick healthier residents than County Homes. This practice is called “Cherry Picking”. The New York State Government has not been able to change this. Does this mean that the Private Nursing Home Industry has lobbying influence that stifles our government from writing legislation that would correct this inequity? I think it does.
    • There will be a “Change” in funding levels from New York State to Counties this spring and it won’t be an increase. OK, if we stay at the same level of funding for nursing homes, it will not be a change. If the change is not going to be an “Increase”, it would appear that Mr. Kissinger has told us that we can expect a decrease in funding this spring from New York State to Counties for Nursing Home Funding.
    • New York State wants more assisted living beds and less Nursing Home beds.
    • New York State is not going to take a Leadership Role in assisting Counties in making plans for Elder Care/Nursing Home Care, even as numerous Counties are trying to make decisions of what type of service to offer Elders in our communities. Even when New York State and the Federal Government continue to be the main funding sources and the initiators of policy, they are willing to let local Legislatures try to solve these challenges without assistance. Editorial note: What happened to Strategic Planning? Regionalization? Efficiencies of scale? Nope! You’re on your own! Good Luck! ??????
    • I think Mr. Kissinger informed Ulster County in the gentlest manner that continuation in the Nursing Homes business would be extremely difficult at best, and untenable in normal circumstances. New York State discriminates in favor of Private Nursing Home Operators and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
    As the Ulster County Legislature continues to deliberate the future of providing service to the elderly of this county I think it should take this challenge and transform it to a opportunity. The legislature must resist a rush to judgment regardless of pressure from the media, executive branch or numerous vocal stakeholders. There are models of Elder Care in the United States and elsewhere that need to be examined to determine an appropriate and progressive path to comprehensive dignified service to our Senior population.
    Very close to home there is a model emerging that shows an impressive response to the needs our Seniors. The Ellenville Hospital on Route 209 has transformed a failing mediocre hospital into a pristine, state of the art Emergency Care/ General Medical and Rehab Facility. Just steps from the front door of the Hospital you have the Ellenville Senior Living Center. The brand new senior living center provides clean, energy efficient, and secure housing. The residents of this housing complex also provide a consistent patient flow to the Ellenville Hospital just by virtue of their regular medical service needs. The Seniors receive competent convenient medical attention and the hospital has a continuous clientele (coupled with the needs of the community beyond the Senior Complex the hospital is financially whole). If one was to add a Nursing Home facility to the existing medical-housing campus, the combination of needs and services would be very symbiotic. The seniors at the housing complex are continuously looking for “Jobs” and would be an excellent source of volunteer assistance for a Nursing Home facility. A “Combination Care Campus” (as seen in the Ellenville Hospital Campus) would appear to be an ideal model to emulate and recreate in areas of need throughout the county. A single license holder could create satellite Care Campuses filling housing and medical care needs in an efficient and profitable manner. I believe we should reissue our Request for Proposal to solicit interest in this type of model of care which may very well incorporate a partnership approach to development.
    If anyone is interested in touring the Ellenville Hospital and adjacent senior housing complex I would be happy to facilitate an appointment. I believe it is important to see what CAN be accomplished if we think just slightly out of the box. I worked for a former Marine who used to say “Lead or get the Hell out of the Way”. I think we can and we should lead and create a superior place in life for the people who have given so much to us. Let’s restore dignity to our elderly and ease the fears of growing old. Let’s do it right this time.

    Jack Hayes

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