Chautauqua County legislators have been bombarded recently with reasons not to sell the Chautauqua County Home.
First, the union representing the nursing home's workers tried to turn the discussion into a jobs issue - until it became apparent a clause can be written into the sale protecting jobs at the facility. Then, the union and opponents of the sale said the home should be given more time to save money in the hope it could one day be profitable. Finally, the focus turned to William Avi Rothner, the Illinois businessman who has submitted a $16.5 million proposal to buy the home. Opponents of the sale have argued Rothner will throw the home's residents out into the street or allow the quality of care to decrease so much that they wish they had been thrown into the street.
How, then, do sale opponents answer the research done recently by legislator Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point? In an opinion piece on Page A5 of today's edition of The Sunday Post-Journal? Horrigan shares his findings from months of discussions with people who oversee other nursing homes Rothner has purchased. Horrigan finds the quality of care at Rothner's five nursing homes generally increases after the sale, contrary to what has been claimed by sale opponents. Rather than a mass firing of employees, many of the nursing home employees have remained on the job. Most of the residents at a Rothner nursing home report no decline in care, no change in the attitudes of the staff who care for them and, in most cases, an investment in the facility to make it a more pleasant place to live.
Horrigan says he finds no reason not to sell the home to Rothner.
While opponents grasp at half-truths to convince legislators not to sell, there are a few Chautauqua County Home truths that won't change. According to Medicare rankings, the Chautauqua County Home is a rated one star out of five and still manages to lost nearly $10,000 a day. Over the last five years, $14 million in county money has been spent to keep the home solvent, with the county paying between $1.5 and $3 million every year. That money could pay for sheriff's deputies, public works projects or be given back to county residents in the form of a tax cut.
It is time to sell the Chautauqua County Home.