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Should the Horace Nye Nursing Home be privatized?  (Photo:  Horace Nye website)
Should the Horace Nye Nursing Home be privatized? (Photo: Horace Nye website)

Workers, residents rally to save Horace Nye nursing home

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On Saturday more than a hundred people rallied at the Horace Nye nursing home in Elizabethtown. Essex County supervisors may vote as early as tomorrow to privatize the home, as a cost-cutting measure. Opponents say the home is a vital service provided by the county.

As Brian Mann reports, counties across the North Country and across New York state have been scrambling to privatize care for the elderly.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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At Saturday’s rally, town supervisors Tom Scozzafava from Moriah and Gerry Morrow from Chesterfield argued that selling Horace Nye would not produce significant tax cuts for residents of Essex County. 

“If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you,” Scozzafava said. Morrow added that none of his town constituents have ever demanded that the nursing home, with roughly 100 beds, be closed. 

County officials have been pushing to privatize Horace Nye for years, pointing to the fact that the home runs more than $2 million in the red annually. With the property tax cap now in place and other costs rising, a county task force recommended last month that the home be sold to a private company called Specialty Care of New York City. The price tag would be roughly $4 million. 

In an interview with the Plattsburgh Press Republican, Moriah town supervisor Sue Montgomery-Corey said the new company has a good track record for patient care and recently took over another country-run nursing home in Gloversville, just outside the Adirondack Park in Fulton County. 

“One of the criticisms of a sale is that Medicaid patients would get tossed to the curb,” Montgomery-Corey told the newspaper, “but I don’t think that would happen here.”  

At Saturday’s rally, Scozzafava and Morrow repeatedly raised concerns that the new company would look to edge out the high number of low-income Horace Nye residents who are cared for almost entirely by Medicaid payments. In addition to caring for 100 elderly residents, the home in Elizabethtown also offers more than 120 relatively high-paying jobs and there are fears that the new company would offer lower pay and benefits.

This is part of a statewide trend where counties have moved to privatize nursing homes.  Warren, Washington and Saratoga Counties are all considering selling homes. 

Franklin County is also in the process of merging its nursing home with Alice Hyde Medical Center.  A final vote on the Horace Nye sale in Essex County could come tomorrow at the board of supervisors meeting.

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