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Onondaga County moves to sell Van Duyn nursing home

Ellen Abbott

Onondaga County lawmakers have taken the first steps to moving the 185 year old Van Duyn nursing home off county tax rolls.

During its session Tuesday afternoon, legislature chairman Ryan McMahon talked about a fiscal cliff, but it wasn't the one being debated in Washington. He says there's one right here in central New York that can only be averted if the county moves to sell Van Duyn to a private company.

"We have to act now, because by not acting now, we put our county on the verge of bankruptcy," he argued.

If Onodanga County keeps running the nursing home, county taxpayers would have to pay an estimated $1 million dollars a month to operate it. It's been a problem for years, as the state's Medicaid reimbursement has been static in the light of increasing costs.

"It's the only feasible solution that's been presented, not just this month or last month, but for the last four years," says McMahon. "This is it."

The home will ultimately be run by the privately owned Upstate Services Group. The fact that a private company will run a nursing home that's a safety net for some of the poorest residents in the county worries Sue Langley, who's son has lived there for several years.

"What if there's not enough profit down the road, what happens then? Do they turn around and sell it to somebody else, and then somebody else, does it just plain close?" she asks.

Also opposed to the move is the Civil Service Employees Association, the union that represents Van Duyn employees. The union says it will challenge this move in court.