Thursday, March 31, 2011


Anyone who passed the Ulster County office Building on Fair Street Tuesday evening, would have seen quite the gathering of people along the sidewalk. Those people were the tireless supporters of Golden Hill Nursing Home and advocates of keeping the facility county operated.
Numbers reaching up to 150 according to authorities, they held signs and banners while chanting the expected "Save Our Nursing Home" and "Seniors Are Not For Sale" slogans. Everyone was smiling and the sun was holding back the chill on that not-so-spring day.

Inside however, Ulster County legislators assembled for the committee meeting scheduled for just this issue. Its no secret that many legislators are beginning to line up in favor of "Build New-Keep It County" for the nursing home. 
As noted in the Freeman: Mary Sheeley (D-Ellenville) said "The county has “a moral obligation to take care of those who can no longer care for themselves.” Followed by Frank Fellicello (R-Marlboro) who said: “I firmly believe we should own (a) facility, and we should make it better than what exists now." I couldn't have said it better myself. 

Let me say that I have seen a different side of some of my colleagues as this issue has developed. To see members who I suspected in opposition come forward and advocate for the continued stellar service the County provides at Golden Hill actually alters the broad strokes we create when painting the political opposition. I think it's a good thing. 

It reminds us that we all come from our life experiences through different paths and the labels we share are merely generalities. Each issue that comes our way, brings a new window to how each of us thinks. 
At the meeting, the voices joining the chorus for "Keeping it County" were not only Sheeley & Fellicello, but Provenzano, Parete, Harris, Maloney, Wadnola, Belfiglio and Briggs. Both Ronk and Mayo were present. Neither indicated any similar support that I heard. Gregorius stated he felt rushed and didn't feel satisfied with the process or the limited amount of information we've been offered. I think Hayes feels the same way.  
As noted: The Health and Human Services Committee, which will make a final recommendation to the full Legislature about the future of the 280-bed nursing home, is giving other lawmakers until April 15 to weigh in on the issue. I will be lending my support to "Keep It County" as well. 
Building new could offer the option of splitting the facility into two locations to better serve the county. Rob Parete's outline to include rehab enhancing services within any future campus is genious. 
The committee expects to vote on its final recommendation by its July meeting.
Building a new facility would cost about $71 million and take about two years to complete. With a restructured state reimbursement, added revenues on-site and possibly shedding other vacated buildings, a new Golden Hill just might operate in the black. Either way, it still befuddles me that the Legislature of the past was more than willing to spend what they did on criminals and now we hesitate to do even less for the elderly. 

Note: There will be a Tea Party rally at the same location April 4th at 4:30 in favor of selling the Licence to a private firm.


Anonymous said...

Bravo! It is about time the Legislators have started to make their views public on this issue! The fact that building new would be reimbursed up to 90% is a fact few are aware of.

Anonymous said...

Great story, Mike. The meeting left us feeling cautiously optimistic that the legislature will do the right thing. I just hope those who are newly converted or still on the fence are not swayed by the opposition.

Anonymous said...

Didn't anyone read the comprehensive report that was compiled by the special committee on Golden Hill? There were many alternatives to what to do with Golden Hill. Building new was in fact one of the options with 75% being reimbursed from the State. It's a no-brainer.

Anonymous said...

You mean to say that the party of No-Yess is now the party of Yes less one 's'?