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October 3, 2012

Countryside residents scramble as Oct. 12 closure date looms


“They are as upset as we are,” she said.

She hasn’t heard from Leatherstocking about what to expect, she said, adding that he will be isolated without his equipment.

“It’s cruel and unusual punishment,” she said.

Claire Gotthardt has been working as a certified nursing assistant at the facility since 1982.

“We enjoy working here,” but she and others are traumatized by the situation, she said. She doesn’t know what the plans are to move residents out. Four people were moved to a Spring Valley facility last week, she said — but their belongings are still at Countryside.

“It’s chaos,” she said.

Sheila Alvarez is also a CNA at the site.

“It’s the saddest thing I’ve done in my life,” she said about the situation. “It’s very hard on the residents,” but under the circumstances, “there is not a choice. We have to help them pack and get ready to go” if there is a space found at an available nursing home. Some of the towns and cities to which residents have been sent include Rome, Amsterdam, Spring Valley, Vestal and Binghamton, Alvarez said. Administration is trying to notify families as quickly as possible, she said, and if a family is working on an alternate placement, Countryside is trying to accommodate them.

The layoffs of staff began Monday, Alvarez said. She said she didn’t know how many were affected, and there is no union. There is adequate staffing to deal with the population, she said, but the staff is not being told anything by the administration.

This includes the possibility of a buyer for the facility that had been mentioned by county officials previously. Another resident who discussed her concerns was 87-year-old Elizabeth Hawley. She came to the facility five years ago because of a medical condition that prevents her from caring for herself.

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