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Budget difficulties impact New York nursing homes

Just because many believe that the recession is over doesn't mean there aren't lasting effects from the struggling economy. The financial strain is starting to show in services and programs provided by local governments. When care facilities face a tight budget, there may be concern for an increase in nursing home negligence due to a lack of resources. But hopefully nursing home facilities will consider other options before letting the standard of care slip.

In New York, the exploration of other options has included the sale of many taxpayer-funded nursing homes. Essex County established a nursing home in Upstate New York over 150 years ago. The home always has a waiting list and it provides care for the elderly in this rural community. Now, a private company will be providing that care.

County supervisors decided to sell the home to a private company because of the financial status of the government. The home operated at a loss. Taxpayers in Essex County had to pay $2 million to keep the facility functional largely because government agencies, both state and federal, were unwilling to supplement Medicaid payments for the poor residents.

The thought in selling the homes is that a private corporation is better equipped financially to keep things operational. A private corporation will be able to pay for employee training and new equipment.

Although keeping the facility open is a good thing, some people within the community are concerned that a for-profit company will place a higher priority on earning money than it will on preventing nursing home accidents.

Throughout economic hardships and changes in ownership, it is important that nursing home facilities continue to meet adequate standard of care when it comes to patients. Budget difficulties and transitory ownership are not an excuse to open the door to nursing home neglect or abuse. Any patients or residents who are injured as a result of substandard care can seek compensation for their injuries.

Source: NPR, "Amid Budget Squeeze, N.Y. Sells Nursing Homes," Brian Mann, Aug. 16, 2012

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