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Dan Hust | Democrat

Probation Director Tom Fogarty, above, and Veterans Services Agency Director John Bridges, both three-decade veterans in county government, announced their retirements during various Legislative committee meetings.

Adult Care Center future is cloudy

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — October 12, 2010 — With more than a dozen beds open (as of last week) at the county’s Adult Care Center in Liberty, Legislator and Health and Family Services Committee Chair Ron Hiatt on Thursday urged Interim Administrator Jim Galligan to seek out the elderly and infirm who can fill those beds.
While that may sound callous, Hiatt’s push is based on the fact that the Adult Care Center collects upwards of $5,000 per patient annually – meaning 15 empty beds are a significant loss of revenue.
Galligan agreed that the center should increase its advertising efforts.
“You have to become more aggressive to sell the beds,” he noted.
Health Commissioner Chris Cunningham said there’s a plan to have county social workers talk about that option with their consumers, but it was pointed out that the department is down one social worker currently.
Galligan said his staff is also discussing giving more doctors privileges at the care center.
County Manager David Fanslau added that Cunningham and crew are preparing a report on how to sustain the center, due by the end of the year.
To remain competitive, he noted, upgrades to the rooms will be required.
“We have to be willing to make the investment, as well,” he said.
That’s in the face of declining state and federal aid, however. Already, said Fanslau, the county loses $90 a day on Medicaid-funded beds, which comprise 80 percent of the facility.
And short-term stays are far more common, said Legislator Elwin Wood, whose wife runs a private nursing home in Roscoe. People are choosing to convalesce in nursing homes but live their final days at home, he explained.
A commission is being formed to study the Adult Care Center’s options further, said Hiatt. It will consist of Galligan, one or two legislators, a private nursing home manager or operator, and representatives of Public Health Nursing, the Senior Legislative Action Commission, and the Care Center’s Family Council.
“Hopefully we can get a meeting cooking soon,” Hiatt said.
In the meantime, legislators on the Health and Family Services Committee unanimously agreed to urge state and federal representatives to ensure funding streams remain for county-operated nursing homes.
Federation seeking shelter funding
Though legislators noted with sadness on Thursday that the Sullivan County Federation for the Homeless’ bid to build a $2.5 million homeless shelter in Monticello has yet to find the necessary funding, they continue to support the idea.
And Federation Director Steve White said later in the day that he’s reapplying for state monies this week. He remains optimistic, noting that grant decision makers were highly impressed with the proposal and need presented in the last round.
Grass as gas?
Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development Director Dick Riseling, who consults for the county, announced a push to develop a grass pellet biofuel industry in the county.
Noting successes upstate, Riseling said field grasses that are otherwise undesirable could be turned into fuel to heat homes and businesses.
If a grant comes through next year, Riseling said 50-80 jobs could be created locally. However, such a grant would require a 50 percent match from the involved participant, who would be the main applicant.
Saying goodbye
Legislators approved extending the state retirement incentive program on Thursday, and it was revealed that day that two top employees will indeed be retiring.
Probation Director Tom Fogarty and Veterans Services Agency Director John Bridges, both three-decade veterans in county government, announced their retirements during various committee meetings.

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