Rockland lawmakers voted 11-6 yesterday to create a local development corporation to sell the financially strapped Summit Park Nursing Care Center, The Journal News/lohud.com reports today.
Proceeds from the sale would be used to reduce the county’s $96.4 million budget deficit or cover the cost of operations if revenues fall significantly short this year.
Members of the Civil Service Employees Association pleaded with lawmakers not to close the nursing home so they can keep their jobs. Workers have been critical of County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef and the Rockland Legislature for the plan, saying it would not solve the county’s fiscal woes.
The Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center includes the 321-bed nursing facility and a 57-bed long-term acute-care unit and a 43-bed psychiatric unit. The county has loaned the facility $32 million in recent years so it can continue operating. None of the funds have been repaid.
Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell, D-West Nyack, told union workers and Summit Park residents and their families yesterday that the changing financial challenges meant changes were needed regarding Summit Park.
“I know this is not what you like to hear,” Cornell said. “It is not what I like to say.”
Vanderhoef said operational costs and continuing changes in the health-care industry that the county is not equipped to handle drove the proposal for the local development corporation, which are frequently created by municipalities in the state.
Counties statewide have been selling or closing their nursing homes as federal and state aid formulas have continued to change, and breaking even has become increasingly difficult for the municipalities.
Residents of Summit Park, some of them in wheelchairs, also spoke out in favor of keep the facility under county control, including Iris Liddell, an 11-year resident. “When I got here I really was in bad shape,” she said. “They helped me tremendously.”