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County run nursing home one step closer to falling under private control

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Albany/HV: County run nursing home one step closer to falling under private control
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It's been run by Saratoga County since the 1980s, but the Maplewood Manor Nursing Home in Ballston Spa is now one step closer to coming under private control. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, the decision is sparking anger among longtime employees and residents.

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. – Complications from a stroke may make it difficult for him to hold a tune these days, but old recordings allow everyone to enjoy Jimmy Granitto's great singing voice.

The 81-year-old is one of almost 240 residents at the county-run Maplewood Manor nursing home in Ballston Spa.

"I believe in quality of life, I believe that whole heartedly,” said Granitto. “The place is excellent, excellent."

Granitto has been at Maplewood for a year and a half. Before her death six months ago, his wife spent five years here.

A service long paid for by county taxpayers, lawmakers are now discussing creating a local development corporation to run the nursing home.

"We're in a dilemma, so you have to work for the best ways out of it," said Stillwater Town Supervisor Edward Kinowski, a member of the board of supervisors’ public health committee.

This year Maplewood has a $10 million deficit on a $28 million budget. With a county fund balance of just $9 million, that's a bill some supervisors say the county simply can't afford under the current model.

"We cannot fiscally, responsibly keep control of this facility," said Hadley Town Arthur Wright, chairman of the public health committee.

Prior to Wednesday's committee meeting, dozens of Maplewood's 300 employees were joined by CSEA union representatives to protest the plan, which supervisors voted in favor of four to two.

"What we've seen in other counties that have privatized services is they drastically reduce the workforce," CSEA Capital Region President Kathy Garrison said.

"I'm concerned I may lose my job, but I'm also concerned about the residents, the welfare of this county," said Terry Tree, a nurse’s aide who, along with her husband, has worked at Maplewood for 26 years.

While a consultant's report found privatizing was the best way to gain fiscal control without sacrificing services, many remained convinced it's the staff and patients who will lose out.

"I just don't see the benefits,” said Saratoga Springs Supervisor Joanne Yepsen, one of two “no” votes Wednesday. “You've got to show me the numbers if you're going to show me this is an advantage to county taxpayers."

"I'm concerned that the quality of life here won't be as good,” Granitto said. “I prefer that they leave it the way it is now."

The matter now moves on to the law and finance committee before being brought up before the full country board of supervisors.

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