Monticello, NY – By an 8-1 vote, legislators today agreed to transfer the Care Center at Sunset Lake to the Sunset Lake Local Development Corporation (LDC), the first step in a process to lease the 146-bed long-term care and short-term rehabilitation facility to a private operator while retaining County control and oversight. District 6 Legislator Luis Alvarez cast the dissenting vote.
“Over the course of many meetings and public hearings, we heard the concerns of County residents, Care Center employees, and relatives of loved ones who have used this valuable facility, and those concerns did not go unrecognized,” said Legislature Chairman Robert A. Doherty. “We agree with them that avoiding putting a larger burden on taxpayers, ensuring the highest-quality care for Care Center users, and continuing the employment of our nearly 160 workers at the Care Center should be our top goals.”
“Leasing the County nursing home is not solely about resolving our difficult fiscal challenges but also about smoothly transferring the facility’s operations to an operator who will do business with our residents’ needs foremost in mind,” he added. “We are not closing or selling the facility, and in the process we will maintain the valuable services provided in Liberty, keep the employees who have worked so very hard over the past few months, avoid further burdening our taxpayers with a tax increase, and steer clear of more layoffs and program cuts.”
The Sunset Lake LDC, a nonprofit corporation created by the County to handle the lease of the nursing home, will be overseen by five members of the community: District 2 Legislator and Health & Family Services Committee Chair Nadia Rajsz, Assistant County Manager Michelle Huck, Coroner Albee Bockman, Jeffersonville attorney William Chellis and Bethel resident Lowell Feldman, a healthcare consultant and licensed nursing home administrator. They will be tasked with identifying and recommending a suitable company to manage the Care Center. Legislators will make the ultimate decision based on the track record of the lessee and the quality of care they promise to provide.
“Under State law, an LDC has broader abilities than the County to initiate a lease that is in the best interests of our taxpayers and the Care Center,” noted County Manager Josh Potosek. “Workers will remain County employees during the lease, and the facility and property will stay County-owned. In order to ensure local residents in need will have priority access to the Care Center, the Sullivan County Certified Home Health Agency (CHHA) will also be transferred to the third-party operator.”
The LDC is empowered to begin efforts immediately. LDC meetings will be open to the public, and records will be subject to the Freedom of Information Law. A meeting schedule will be posted on the County’s website when finalized.