Bialystoker Nursing Home Controversy: Elected Officials Appeal to State Health Commissioner
New information this afternoon concerning the closure of the Bialystoker Nursing Home on East Broadway. First, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, City Councilmember Margaret Chin and State Senator Daniel Squadron have sent a letter to the state health commissioner.
Here’s the full text of that letter:
We are writing to you to express our concerns over the planned closure of the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation on East Broadway in our Lower East Side district. This community is home to many seniors, as well as to families who have lived here for generations, so the kinds of services that Bialystoker provides are of particular importance.
We understand that in the event of a closure, the Department of Health (DOH) will seek to place residents in facilities that offer similar care, but we, along with members of the community, feel it is important that such services be offered here on the Lower East Side. For many families as well as patients, moving to other parts of the city or the state would simply present too much of a hardship.
Therefore, we are asking that you make every possible effort to see that if Bialystoker does close, it is replaced by another long-term care facility at that location. There remains a pressing need for this type of facility on the Lower East Side and we are ready to work with you to ensure that we maintain these vital services for our seniors and their families. Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions or need further information, please contact us.
Second, the Villager spoke with a Bialystoker center board member, in a telephone interview. Barry Winston addressed accusations that the sale last year of 232 East Broadway, an office building, to Board Chair Ira Meisiter (a real estate developer) seems to many like an insider, “sweetheart deal.”
“Nobody is being thrown out into the street,” said Winston… The transfer of residents to other institutions is being done in an orderly fashion and according to state regulations, he said. The building at 232 East Broadway was sold to raise funds for operating the center, to pay bills and to make emergency repairs, Winston added, noting that his grandfather, grandmother and mother had been Bialystoker residents, as had Meister’s father. “No one on the board receives compensation and the center has been operating at a tremendous loss of years. We’ve made every effort, but we can’t keep it open,” said Winston, who estimated the annual loss at $1 million. The center’s small endowment is not enough to insure continued operation, he added. The high staffing requirement for a nursing home was another burden that made the closing inevitable, Winston said. Currently there are 132 staff members. “We have never missed a payroll and we’ve been concerned to provide the best care possible but that’s not sustainable anymore,” he said. Responding to the demand that the building be sold to an entity that could run it, Winston said that the board has made inquiries. “There is no one out there,” he concluded.