It's been in talks for more than two years. But now, the sale of the county owned nursing home is one step closer to reality. The county's health committee approved the sale Friday. As our Katie Gibas reports, even though the full legislature will still have to vote on the proposal, legislators are optimistic it will pass.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- It could be one of the most important decisions for Onondaga County. That's what county legislators are saying about potentially selling the county owned Van Duyn Nursing home.
"For the viability of this county, it's something we had to tackle," said Danny Liedka, the County Legislature's Health Committee Chairman.
Legislators say their budget and taxpayers just can't sustain the county owning Van Duyn.
"The projections for the next ten years are somewhere in the neighborhood of a $115 million deficit, so it's something that could bankrupt the county," said Liedka.
Onondaga County Legislator Casey Jordan added, "That's not factoring in increases in medical expenses, increases in salaries and things of that sort. So we're looking at saving tens of millions of dollars per year."
The legislature's Health Committee voted Friday to approve the sale of Van Duyn to the Upstate Services Group. They own 11 nursing homes across the state, including the former Vivian Teal Howard Nursing Home on Castle Street in Syracuse since 2008 and turned it around from one of the worst nursing homes in the country to a financially viable business providing quality care.
"This company, they have buying power. So obviously their goal is to be profitable. The county's goal is to provide great service. And I think when you mesh the two together, they're really the only agency that can provide that," said Liedka.
Jordan added, "Because they own multiple facilities, they have the ability that they have the ability that if a patient needs particular care, that they can send them to another facility to receive that care and then bring them back to the local facility so the family members aren't having to travel long distances."
Legislators say they've been assured the 500 employees at Van Duyn will be kept on after the sale. Upstate Services Group spokespeople say employees will be given competitive salaries.
The resolution also called for the demolition of the campus' S1 building. It's in poor condition and is full of asbestos. If the full legislature approves the plan, demolition will start in the Spring.
The proposal will now go to the full legislature for a vote on Tuesday. If they approve the measure, the county hopes to transfer ownership by next December. In Onondaga County,