Onondaga County Officially Transfers Ownership of Nursing Home to Private Firm

The changing face of New York nursing home care continued this weekend as another county officially got out of the elder care business. As reported by Syracuse News, the Van Duyn Home and Hospital was transferred by Onondaga County to the “Upstate Services Group” — a private company that owns at least eleven other New York elder care facilities.

This transition was in the works for quite some. The news report explains how the facility has long-been plagued by accusations of poor care on top of acting as a huge financial burden for the county itself. In fact, Van Duyn was under intense scrutiny from federal regulators for its poor caregiving track record. That is on top of more than a dozen private civil lawsuits filed by former residents and their family members against the county alleging negligence.

The financial issue combined with care quality concerns led many to suspect that the 500-bed facility would be shuttered. However, with this transition to private ownership, it appears the the facility is safe–at least for now. Interestingly, one of the main concerns with sales of public facilities to private companies is the risk of a decrease in quality for residents. However, in this case, because of Van Duyn’s poor track record in the past, there were less complaints of that nature.

But that is not to say that everyone is happy with the change. In order to make the facility more financially stable, the private company plans to cut employee benefits. It is unclear if or how such a move will affect the home’s ability to recruit and retain qualified caregivers. But union leaders were understandably angry at the switch, warning of negative ramifications as a result of the pension cuts and health benefit reductions.

One positive sign is that NY health department officials note that other homes owned by the same company receive high marks for care quality. Obviously the hope is that that track record bears out in this case.

This latest move in Syracuse is just another reminder of the trend away from publicly owned long-term care facilities in New York. The change is pushed by many demands and is itself just one part of new nationwide approaches to elder care. Nursing homes overall are falling out of fashion, as many seniors prefer to age in place and receive at-home support for as long as possible. For help understanding elder care options in your own case or that of a family member, consider contacting our NY elder law attorneys today.

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