Schenectady County has grand plans for low-income residents of Glendale Home — a new 200-bed facility with on-site medical services, possibly linked to community housing for independent seniors.
The state Department of Health has to sign off on the concept, involving an extensive review.
County officials are pushing ahead with the project. They announced Tuesday night at the county Legislature meeting that they received state approval to submit an application to construct the home to replace the aging Glendale Home on Hetcheltown Road.
“In discussions with the state, they said they are comfortable with us going to a 200-bed facility. This is a significant finding,” said County Manager Kathleen Rooney. “They are not approving our new building now; they are giving us permission to provide a revised certificate of need.”
Department of Health spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said the state is still negotiating with the county and “no decision has been made” on the final concept.
Dr. Brian Gordon, chairman of the county Legislature’s Health Committee, said the state is correct. “We are talking with the state Department of Health to try to obtain 200 beds for the Glendale nursing facility in addition to a provision for senior-level housing on the campus.”
Gordon said he envisions a facility that combines senior housing with medical services, and that it would be a model unlike any other in the Capital Region.
“Instead of just building a nursing home, we are looking to build a comprehensive senior community. I don’t know of many locals with this type of cutting-edge care.”
The certificate of need is the first step in the state’s review process for new health care facilities. Gordon called the state’s action a positive sign. “It looks favorable that it will happen. I am optimistic we will get to a 200-bed facility.”
In 2006, the county submitted a certificate of need to build a $42-million, 280-bed nursing home by 2009. But the Berger Commission recommendations quashed that plan.
The Berger Commission, more formally known as the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, recommended the county downsize the 360-bed Glendale skilled nursing facility to 168 beds. County officials have protested the decision, saying it would leave the county with too few nursing home beds to meet anticipated demand. The Berger Commission findings became law in January 2007.
State Health Department officials said they have little room to maneuver regarding the Berger mandate.
The county expects to submit a revised certificate within weeks, Rooney said. The proposed facility could cost between $45 million and $50 million. The state would provide 85 percent reimbursement toward the cost. Rooney said she plans to seek state grants to offset the local cost.
“Building a new facility makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons,” she said.
A new facility would allow the county to obtain more money from the state for operations; it would improve the quality of care of residents; and it would save the county money, as it has to subsidize Glendale’s operations to the tune of approximately $7 million annually. Rooney said the new facility, even with its debt service, would be less expensive.
Rooney did not say where the county would build. Gordon said the county is looking at various sites and that the proposed facility would require a sizeable parcel.
The state is also asking the county to create senior housing apartments near Glendale. “The state has asked us as part of the plan to expand other choices for seniors. We will consider working with a community partner to create community housing at Glendale,” Rooney said.
She said the senior-citizen population needs community housing, which allows residents to live independently but with assistance from home health aides and other services.
The Berger Commission also recommended the closure of 18 hospitals, including Bellevue Woman’s Hospital in Niskayuna, and that Ellis and St. Clare’s consolidate operations.
After the announcement, St. Clare’s said it would give up its operating license, which in essence left Ellis as the only acute care hospital in Schenectady County. Ellis is now developing a comprehensive health care plan for the community, which will cover primary care to long-term care.
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Categories: Schenectady County