The state Department of Health awarded $1.9 million Thursday to The Avenue and The Dutch Manor nursing homes as part of a state mandate to restructure long-term care in Schenectady County.
Capital Living and Rehabilitation Centres, for-profit owner of The Avenue on Altamont Avenue and Dutch Manor on Hamburg Street, will use the state grant as seed money toward a $50 million, 240-bed skilled nursing facility near the two facilities.
Meanwhile, Schenectady County officials continue to negotiate with the state over the fate of the Glendale Home, a county-run facility in Glenville that serves the poor. The state ordered the county to decertify 192 of the 360 beds there, leaving it with 168 beds. County officials said the state’s proposal would leave the county with too few nursing home beds to deal with projected acute and long-term medical needs.
The Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, also known as the Berger Commission, recommended Capital Living merge The Avenue and Dutch Manor, which have a total of 310 beds, into a rebuilt facility with 240 beds.
It also recommended Capital Living build a 50-bed assisted-living facility, considered a less-expensive alternative to skilled nursing beds and to create 25 adult day care openings.
A further recommendation called for Ellis and St. Clare’s hospitals to consolidate services and for Bellevue Woman’s Hospital to close. The recommendations became state law in 2007.
Department of Health spokeswoman Claudia Hutton said the state’s objectives are to reduce costs, modernize facilities and provide medical services currently lacking in targeted communities.
Capital Living CEO Patrick Martone said he is excited by the proposed projects. “We have been supportive of the Berger concept since we had the initial conversations with them. It will allow us to enhance services and diversify into more community-based services that Schenectady County desperately needs,” he said.
Martone described these as medical day care, assisted living and adult day care, which keep people out of expensive nursing homes and allow them to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.
“We are addressing an older, medically complex population. We are rehabilitating them, strengthening them and discharging them into the community,” Martone said. “I look at it as part of a continuum of care. With the consolidation of hospitals, this helps people transition from acute care and long-term care back into the community.”
Capital Living proposes three phases to the projects: Constructing the nursing home, demolishing The Avenue and converting Dutch Manor into an assisted living facility at a cost of $20 million. He hopes to have the new nursing home operational in three years, with the other components later.
Construction is contingent on Capital Living’s acquiring additional funding for the total $70 million project, Martone said. Capital Living asked the state for $9 million toward phase one, receiving $1.9 million instead.
“This project has a huge scope, but it is a good first step. Our goal is to make it happen. The question is not if, but when,” Martone said.
Hutton said not everyone received what they requested. “We had $2.5 billion in requests and $150 million in money.”
The state will make an additional $250 million in grants available this summer. The money comes state and federal sources set aside to pay for mandated closures, mergers or bed reductions at hospitals and nursing homes around the state, as ordered by the Berger Commission in late 2006.
The state wants the county to reduce beds at Glendale because the facility is old and expensive to operate, Hutton said. The county spends millions of local property tax dollars annually to subsidize it. The 2007 subsidy was $7 million, down from $10.5 million in 2005.
Earlier this year, the county received $3 million from the state to begin studies on replacing Glendale with a smaller, more homelike nursing facility. The county, however, continues to negotiate with the state to build a 240-bed facility.
“We are still working with them to come up with a plan for Glendale Home,” said County Manager Kathleen Rooney. She said the county needs Glendale because it is part of the safety net that provides essential services to the indigent.
Dr. Brian Gordon, D-Niskayuna, chairman of the county Legislature’s Health Committee and its sub-committee on Glendale, said the county wants to “maintain an adequate number of beds so we can have a viable countywide health care system.”
The county needs to a new nursing home to receive enhanced reimbursements, which would reduce the county’s annual subsidy, to provide care to the poor and to offer local hospitals a facility where they can discharge patients for short-term recovery.
“The importance of Glendale is that it is accessible to all members of our community and that hospitals have a place to discharge patients to,” Gordon said. “Many facilities will not accept patients with little or no insurance. It is injuring our most vulnerable patients who do not have access to nursing homes that accept private insurance.”
Categories: Schenectady County