To the Editor:
In response to the letter from Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy published last week on moving forward with the lease agreement for the county nursing home:
This decision is one of the most important decisions that will ever be made in Albany County; the nursing home is historic to Albany and touches the lives of so many.
As the letter indicates, the county executive’s office has been working with a for-profit organization, Upstate Services Group, and has proposed to “lease” the Albany County Nursing Home.
In regards to the county executive’s lease agreement, a lot is still uncertain, many questions are still unanswered, and no final lease has been presented to the legislature.
In recent weeks, the county executive held five question-and-answer sessions. The open forum allowed the legislators to address questions they had along with concerns they have for the employees, patients, and taxpayers.
The legislative body asked an array of questions; some legislators who were unable to attend the sessions submitted their questions in writing with the request to have their answers returned in writing. That request was refused.
In addition to the lack of answers, the members of the legislature requested copies of the minutes that were taken during the Q&A sessions from the county attorney and still have not received those either.
When the proposed lease was presented to the Elder Care Committee (on Jan. 28) and to the Audit and Finance Committee (on Jan. 30), it still had blank pages, missing exhibits, and iniquitous details. Negotiations of this magnitude should contain transparency and accountability that involve the legislative body and public input.
In order to “do what is right,” it is essential that the county executive’s office cooperate with the legislature.
It is unclear if the nursing home will remain a safety-net facility under the new lease agreement.
As the county executive mentioned, the nursing-home deficit is estimated between $7 million and $9 million annually; what is confusing to all of us is, that amount keeps changing.
Now is the time for the county executive to coincide with the legislative branch of government to bring in qualified experts to evaluate the finances and the operation of the nursing home.
As many people would like a conclusion to the nursing home, it is not that easy — there is entirely way too much at stake. To move forward with this lease agreement “as is,” is simply irresponsible. The legislative body is in place to ensure whatever decision is made, is the right decision for everyone!
Frank J. Commisso
Albany County Legislature