Vote set on Saratoga County nursing home
New corporation would manage sale of beleaguered facility
SARATOGA COUNTY Saratoga County supervisors appear set to create a new corporation that will take ownership of the county’s money-losing Maplewood Manor nursing home — but opposition to the plan continues.
The Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday in Ballston Spa on creating a local development corporation that will manage Maplewood Manor’s anticipated sale to a private buyer. At least some opponents of the plan are expected to attend to voice their concerns.
“I think there will be a lot of public comment and discussion,” said Supervisor Joanne Yepsen, D-Saratoga Springs, who believes the board’s Republican majority could be doing more to preserve the status quo at the infirmary.
“We need to look at efficiencies. We don’t need another layer of government,” she said Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the board’s all-Republican Law and Finance Committee unanimously endorsed the Public Health Committee’s recommendation that the nursing home — which has been losing $8 million to $10 million per year for several years — be transferred to an LDC that would then manage its sale.
“I’ve been involved with this two years, and I think this is the best option,” said Public Health Chairman Arthur “Mo” Wright, D-Hadley. “It’s still going to be controlled by the supervisors on this board.”
Under the current plan, the board will vote Tuesday to create the LDC, whose members will all be supervisors — though almost certainly all will be members of the Republican majority. There will then be a public hearing scheduled for Jan. 9 to consider transferring the 277-bed facility, sitting on 15 acres, to the LDC.
The LDC could borrow against anticipated sale revenue to cover current losses, and supervisors have already budgeted for it borrowing $6 million in 2013.
“I expect we will sell it to a nonprofit that will be able to operate it more efficiently,” said Law and Finance Committee Chairman Alan R. Grattidge, R-Charlton.
Several infirmary employees arrived at Wednesday’s Law and Finance Committee meeting just minutes after the vote and had to stand in a hall for the rest of the meeting because the committee meeting room was packed. Nurse’s aide Laura Feulner, who has worked for Maplewood Manor for 30 years, said she believes the sale is inevitable.
“It’s inevitable they’ll privatize,” she said. “Hopefully we can work out something with the new owner.”
As a temporary cost-saving measure, the county is closing a 40-bed wing at the nursing home, which will save $1.1 million next year.
“They closed a wing this week, and I was there, and it was sad,” Feulner said. “These people were crying, in some cases. They’re elderly. It’s their home.”
Don Monaco of Ballston Spa, who said he has a relative living in Maplewood Manor, complained about being kept out in the hall.
“There’s not a big enough Band-Aid to cover the problem,” he said.
Supervisors anticipate that during 2013, the new corporation will solicit proposals from private companies interested in buying and then select a preferred buyer. The state Health Department must review and approve the proposed sale, and finalization of the sale isn’t expected until late 2014.