Franklin County agreed to merge its Nursing Home with Alice Hyde Medical Center's and pay $10 million to get out from under the annual financial burden.

The merger means the hospital will build a $35 million skilled-nursing facility with 135 beds and 30 assisted-living spaces.

That will replace the 80-bed Franklin County Nursing Home and the hospital's own 75-bed nursing home.

The planning, design and construction phases could take as long as three years.

$1 MILLION A YEAR

The county will pay the hospital $1 million a year for 10 years as its part of the financing.

At a meeting Thursday, Legislators took turns explaining why they would vote in favor of the merger.

Paul Maroun (R-Tupper Lake) said the county could have sold out to an out-of-state business and lost all local control. But merging with Alice Hyde ensures that decisions will be made by a Board of Directors made up of friends and neighbors.

In addition, operating a nursing home is "not in our mission," he said.

Maroun said the decision is based on what's needed in the 21st century, which is assisted-living space, an option not available before now in Franklin County.

PROFESSIONAL CARE

Legislator Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) said it is "unsettling" that the public might have the perception that legislators don't care about the elderly residents and their concerns.

He said the new facility will have a professional staff, financial stability and state-of-the-art equipment and care for all who live there.

ONE BIG FAMILY

Legislator Sue Robideau (R-Brushton) said she attended a meeting of the Neighborhood Watch group at Franklin County Nursing Home, where she heard their concerns and reassured the residents that all the services and programs they enjoy will be offered at the new site.

"They said, 'We like the staff we have,' and they see themselves as one big, happy family. They do a lot of things together, and their families are invited."

She told them they would not be losing anything because their friends and family would come with them to the new nursing home.

QUESTIONS ANSWERED

The comments came two weeks after legislators heard from concerned residents during a public hearing.

The County Legislature vowed to answer the questions raised at the hearing before they voted Thursday, releasing copies of three letters to be mailed out to the people who raised them.

The answers were supplied by County Attorney Jonathan Miller and approved by legislators.

The letters say that all money will be borrowed and financed through Alice Hyde, and it will be the hospital that pays for the facility if anticipated state and federal money does not come through.

The county said the size of the building could be enlarged "based on the needs of that facility and future financing available," but Alice Hyde officials would make that decision.

HIRING

There is no agreement that requires Alice Hyde to hire county employees at the new site.

Also, participation in the State Retirement System depends on whether an employee transfers to a place that participates in it.

Legislators said it is up to Nursing Home Administrator Mary Palmer to keep residents, families and staff informed about issues of concern and that people were welcome to attend county meetings to learn more.

Email Denise A. Raymo at: draymopressrepublican.com

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