By DAVID FAGERSTROM
In a recent commentary in The Post-Journal, a writer claims "there is utterly no justifiable humanitarian, economic, patient care or public benefit rationale" for not selling the Chautauqua County Home. His statement could not be more false, misguided or closed-minded.
Does that writer not care at all about the county's frail elderly? We think most county residents would agree that quality care from an experienced, educated, loving and consistent staff is humanitarian reason enough to stop the sale of the County Home. Isn't quality care what you would want for yourself or your loved one in a time of need?
In his misguided opinion piece, the writer also claims CSEA is trying to stop the sale simply to keep county jobs and union members. This is also false.
The writer may not realize that CSEA also represents private-sector workers. That means our fight to keep the County Home from being sold is not about numbers. It is about ensuring the best care for all Chautauqua County residents today and in the future. As the writer repeatedly pointed out, there are 219 County Home residents. These men and women should have the best care available from the best staff. Without the public County Home, this care may not be available.
According to a recent Monday Morning Memo from County Executive Greg Edwards, 78 percent of County Home residents are on Medicaid. Private nursing homes are only required to admit a handful of Medicaid patients, while the County Home accepts residents regardless of ability to pay or the complexity of care needed.
For the majority of people living in Chautauqua County - for anyone who has not amassed great personal wealth - the County Home may be the only available option when long-term care is needed. If the home is sold and the number of Medicaid beds is reduced, where will people go?
Private homes have also been known to send people on Medicaid and residents with difficult-to-treat conditions to hospitals and then give away that person's nursing home bed. Then, that person must find somewhere else to live. Sudden and dramatic change is absolutely not healthy for frail elderly.
In Delaware County N.Y. legislators sold the public nursing home to a private enterprise and now that business has failed. The home will close and those living there will have to be shuttled to another facility. This will result in Relocation Stress Syndrome for some of the residents and they will die.
We believe most people will agree that the frail elderly deserve the best medical care in a stable home with loving caregivers. That is why we fight this fight to stop the sale of the County Home. The men and women who live in the County Home have lived their lives in Chautauqua County. They worked hard in factories and offices throughout the county. The lived modest lives and made sacrifices to make sure their families' needs were met. They relied on pensions that have been taken away.
They are not wealthy, but that does not make them any less deserving of high quality care and loving caregivers. The Chautauqua County Home needs to remain the people's home not only for residents today, but for the future residents of tomorrow.
David Fagerstrom is CSEA Unit 6300 president.