VESTAL (WBNG) – The future of Willow Point Nursing Home is now in the hands of the Broome County Legislature.
“The last thing we want to do is tell 180 to 200 people that we can’t keep you anymore and that we have to put you in a different place. We don’t want to do that,” County Executive Jason Garnar said. “It’s not good for people who have been there a long time.”
To prevent this move from happening, the county executive said the county is in talks with Multistate Health Care Centers.
“We probably talked to them for several months before deciding that we wanted to enter into a consulting contract with them,” Garnar said. “I hope the legislature will vote for this because if they don’t vote for this we will lose a trustee and then really jeopardize our ability to even run the house.”
Three factors led to contract talks: a lack of staff even before the pandemic, around Christmas, a former administrator had left and financial problems.
Garnar detailed some of the financial issues.
“When we bill insurance companies, the industry standard is that about 1% of those bills go uncollected. Willow Point is running at about 8% or 9%,” Garnar said. “So we’re leaving millions of dollars on the table because we’re not collecting the bills that are owed to us.”
He shared that it costs the county millions of dollars every year.
“In 2020 alone, it cost the county $5 million. In 2021, it cost the county about $3 million. These types of business interruptions are not sustainable. This is money that we have to draw from our reserve in our savings account to cover these losses,” Garnar said. “It depleted our savings account by about 50 percent.”
To keep the doors open in the first place, a licensed nursing home administrator must be present. For this reason, Centers Health Care stepped in even before this contract was officially voted on. The network provided the certified administrator required for Willow Point to resume operations.
Looking ahead to the vote, Garnar mentioned what’s at stake.
“I really encourage every county legislature to vote on this. If we want to keep this retirement home open, if we want to fill it to capacity, if we want to save millions of dollars for the taxpayers of the county, then vote for the contract,” he said. “Any legislature that doesn’t vote for it seriously jeopardizes Willow Point with a no.
Garnar mentioned that he hoped to have a special meeting in the next week or two and go through with the contract.
12 News has reached out to Willow Point to comment on the contract, but in time for this report we have had no response from any representative.