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Mark Simonson

January 14, 2013

Oneonta's Homer Folks Hospital closed in 1973

(Continued)

The Star reported: “Although there has been talk for several years about the institution closing, employes (sic) had heard the story so many times they refused to believe the hospital would close until they saw the sincerity of Mrs. Carr.

“The overall first reaction was one of shock, and then excited chatter about what could be done to prevent the move. Members of the CSEA will contact legislators in a move to keep the hospital open.”

The employees weren’t alone in their efforts to keep Homer Folks open. Oneonta Mayor James Lettis sent a letter to Rockefeller, stating his views.

“We want the governor to leave Homer Folks open. The unemployment rate is already high…we can’t stand to have the hospital close. It’s New York state’s duty to create jobs, not take them away,” Lettis said.

Other uses for the hospital were suggested almost immediately after the announcement. Dr. Clifford Craven, president of the State University College at Oneonta, launched a campus campaign to acquire the Homer Folks Hospital as an addition to the college campus. Rockefeller had indicated when the closing announcement was made, the hospital would be offered to other state agencies.

Additionally, the state Veterans’ Home at Oxford showed interest in Oneonta as an extension site to its Chenango County facility. A drug rehabilitation center was also suggested, but received strong opposition.

It was reported Monday, Feb. 5, that Lettis had spoken with Assemblyman Harold Luther, and had gotten assurances from the governor that “some state agency would occupy the buildings.”

The hospital did close by July 1, but the district office of the state Department of Health remained on the site for a short time.

Homer Folks Hospital, named after the secretary of the State Charities Aid Association, opened Dec. 18, 1935, and served as a tuberculosis hospital for almost 38 years. Its eventual successor, the Oneonta Job Corps Academy, opened in September 1980, and is now approaching its 33rd year of service.

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