September 08, 2009

Unions fight to save Albany County Nursing Home

Source: NYSUT News Wire

Albany County Nursing Home employees are launching a postcard and phone call campaign to keep the 250-bed nursing home open.

The employees, from two different unions, are asking coworkers, union colleagues, teachers, other health care workers, coalition members and friends to sign postcards that protest the county executive's plan to close the home. Union leaders will collect the cards and deliver them to the county legislature to offset County Executive Mike Breslin's expected recommendation to close the home.

The legislature is slated to review his recommendation following the mid-September board meeting.

 The facility, located in the Albany suburb of Colonie, employs 90 members of the Albany County Nursing Home Professional Staff Association, a NYSUT local, and 380 members of the Service Employees International Union. Workers include nurses, therapists, nutritionists, medical clerks and security guards who care for and protect nursing home residents.

Unlike private facilities, which can turn away patients requiring more complex care, the county home accepts all patients, said Jeff Bradt, local PSA president.

Bradt said Breslin is pushing for a home health care model of service, which means fragile elderly would be cared for in their homes or apartments. Those already in the home would most likely be transferred to other facilities, if possible.

This plan, Bradt said, "would put the most vulnerable residents at risk," such as those with severe dementia or physical infirmities.

The facility last year took on patients from the nearby Ann Lee Nursing Home, which was closed under a recommendation of the state's Berger Commission.

Bradt agreed with a commission recommendation that the county "rebuild a unified facility" for the two homes, saying a modern, compact nursing home would meet residents' needs and save hefty maintenance costs.

He urged supporters to call the county executive's office at 518-447-7040 to protest the closing plan.