Albany County's Nursing Home Plan Approved

ALBANY, April 19, 2007 – New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today approved a plan by Albany County that will improve nursing home care in accordance with recommendations of the New York State Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, also known as the Berger Commission.

The County's plan provides for the closure of the Ann Lee Home and relocation of those residents to Albany County Nursing Home. The relocation will take place with the least disruption possible to residents' lives, taking into consideration the residents' medical and nursing care, psychosocial needs, and physical limitations. The target date for relocation of the 135 residents of Ann Lee Home is June 30, 2008.

The residents of both facilities will eventually be housed in a newly constructed nursing home that will also offer services to county residents who wish to remain in their homes.

"The recommendations of the nonpartisan Berger Commission, which New York State adopted as law, will improve New York's health care system by eliminating costly unused beds and strengthening quality and efficiency," said Daines. "I congratulate Albany County on taking this first major step to restructure long-term care services. When the plan is fully implemented, Albany County will have a much better nursing home facility as well as new community-based services to help people stay in their homes as long as possible."

The Berger Commission recommendations, which became legally binding on January 1, 2007, called for merging the Ann Lee Infirmary and Albany County Nursing Home, building a modern, unified facility, and downsizing the number of nursing home beds. The Berger report noted that both facilities are old and unsuitable for modern skilled nursing care, and occupancy rates have been well below capacity, requiring county taxpayers to subsidize their operations.

As Commissioner of Health, Dr. Daines is charged with implementing the Berger Commission recommendations, which restructure New York's health care system to eliminate costly excess capacity and duplication of services and better meet today's health needs.

The Berger report noted that unneeded beds have a heavy public cost. "Facilities have less chance of attracting the best doctors, buying and maintaining the latest equipment, and maintaining adequate nurse staffing when they must devote inordinate resources to preserving old, underused physical plants," the report noted. "With fewer resources to spend on equipment, salaries, and new technologies, the quality of care suffers."