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November 6, 2012

County can't guarantee fate of Manor

County can’t guarantee fate of Manor

I want to applaud your recent editorial cautioning Otsego County’s Board of Representatives to beware of making the mistake Delaware County made in privatizing its nursing home. 

As your readers know, Countryside Care Center’s private, for-profit operators recently gave up their ownership of the facility, allowing its doors to close for the foreseeable future. In doing so, they abandoned the residents and their families, failed their employees and broke the promises made to taxpayers and residents of Delaware County.

As we learned from Countryside’s example, there is no way, once a county sells its nursing home, to guarantee anything about the facility’s future, or that of its residents. Contracts are, unfortunately, all too easy to walk away from.

To the members of the Board of Representatives, I would urge you to learn from this experience and pull back from your commitment to sell Otsego Manor to a private operator before it’s too late.

Working together, I believe the union and the county could develop a responsible solution allowing Otsego Manor to remain a public nursing home, continuing its safety net mission, and not abandoning the huge investment taxpayers have already made into the facility. We cannot reasonably do that with the threat of privatization hanging over everyone’s heads.

Now is the time for cooler heads to prevail. It’s easy enough to say “we won’t be another Delaware County.” The sad truth is that Delaware County never imagined that it could end up where it is today. The seniors in Delaware County deserved better, and so do the people you have been elected to represent.

Colleen Wheaton

East Syracuse

Wheaton is president of CSEA Central Region 5

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