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Five Legislators sign off on letter supporting Care Center operator

Alex Kielar
Posted 3/29/24

MONTICELLO — A letter supporting the current operator of the Adult Care Center at Sunset Lake in Liberty, Sunset SNF Operations LLC/Sunset Lake Consulting (SUNSET) – an Infinite Care …

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Five Legislators sign off on letter supporting Care Center operator


MONTICELLO — A letter supporting the current operator of the Adult Care Center at Sunset Lake in Liberty, Sunset SNF Operations LLC/Sunset Lake Consulting (SUNSET) – an Infinite Care operation – was read into the record by Callicoon resident Lou Setren during public comment of the Health and Human Services Committee of the Legislature on Thursday, March 21. 

The letter was addressed to Mark Furnish, the Director of the Center for Long Term Care Licensure for the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). It states that the consulting company has made remarkable advancements across crucial areas of care since joining as the operating company for the Care Center. 

“Although those advancements, due to factors beyond their control, have not yet translated into an improved overall CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) Star Rating, they have made the facility a better place to live,” stated the letter. 

Also stated in the letter was that if the control of the facility is reverted to the hands of the county, this will strain the tax base and government, to the point of having to make difficult decisions based on several factors. Those factors include county-wide staffing and public safety. 

The letter concluded that the undersigned individuals support the issuing of the Certificate of Need (CON) to Sunset SNF Operations LLC/Sunset Lake Consulting. 

Five of the nine Legislators signed off on the letter after it was sent to them in an email, which were District 2 Legislator and Chair Nadia Rajsz, District 4 Legislator Nicholas Salomone, District 7 Legislator and Vice Chair Joseph Perrello, District 8 Legislator Amanda Ward and District 9 Legislator Terry Blosser-Bernardo.

There was a lot of pushback and backlash on the letter, including its being signed off behind closed doors – spurring District 6 Legislator Luis Alvarez to say that it should have been brought to the board in public first, via a committee. 

“That [letter] is coming from the legislative body,” said Alvarez. “That means that the nine of us agreed to that letter and there’s only five signatures. What happened to the other signatures?” 

“The way it should have been done is brought here, in a committee, and ask everybody to vote on it,” he said.

District 2 Legislator Cat Scott and Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee agreed with Alvarez and spoke on the neglect that her own mother experienced at the facility. 

“I am very well acquainted with the facility,” noted Scott. “My mother was a resident for almost seven years until her death on December 6. I can say that my mother experienced neglect. I have photographed evidence of the neglect that my mother suffered as a result of bed sores that she had for months and her wheelchair being caked in dirt and food.”

Scott said that she has not previously filed any complaints with the DOH because those complaints would reflect poorly on the county. Since the county is the operator of record, she noted that if there were any findings, the county would be held accountable. 

“But at this point in time,” she said, “I think the county needs to be held accountable.”

Perrello disagreed with the point of view of those against the letter and continued to speak over Scott as she was making her points about neglect. He also uttered that he didn’t want Scott to start bashing the Care Center operators like he said she was doing at the last meeting. 

“This has been going on for three years,” Perrello said. “Everybody here who is not going forward with the care of the nursing home is neglecting the patients in that place.”

Perrello said that based on people he has spoken to who work at the facility, he believes the Care Center to be a well-run machine.

“I do not appreciate my deceased mother being disrespected,” Scott proclaimed, “because that’s what you just did.” 

Setran also had his share of disagreements with what the letter says as well as those who signed it. 

“To claim anything has improved is false,” Setran said. “It appears as if you have all chosen to disregard the statements that were read into the record last week from staff working at the facility, who indicated that there is a double standard applied to employees at the facility.”

Setran even went as far as to say that the operations of the current legislature have turned into “Doherty 2.0”, referencing former District 1 Legislator and Chair Rob Doherty who was often criticized for his viewpoint and handling of the Care Center. 

Setran asked the board if there has been any action taken to make sure that agency staff and per diem employees must abide by the county policies and procedures at the facility after that had been a main point brought forward in the letter written by staff the week prior. 

Rajsz wanted to move on from the subject matter along with Perrello, as the Chair of the Legislature said, “We’re hearing the same, recurring theme. The letter went out, we need to move on.”


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