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Bialystoker Nursing Home Controversy: Elected Officials Appeal to State Health Commissioner

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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.

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  1. I saw nothing in the Villager article where Mr. Winston explained that Ira Meister did not benefit from an insider deal. Why did they not put that property up for sale to the highest bidder? It was most inappropriate for the Board president to just buy the building. The appearance is of self-dealing–a no-no for a Board member.

    How will Mr. Meister benefit from the sale of the nursing home building?

  2. Where is the Rehabilitation money?  A whole floor 8th. dedicated to psychical & occupational therapy because it brings in the most money from state medicare. Barry Winston is full of it, ask how much money does the rehab dept bring into the home monthly, subpoena those records from Tender Touch Health Care Services. 
    A well investigation will uncover that, when the AG investigates them they will open a barrel of worms…. The board was advised to use to building next door 232 E Broadway as an Adult Center that would have generated plenty of money for the home and they didn’t. They had their plans all along. Meister knows very well that he intended on purchasing that building way before the money was an issue and the AG will find those hidden documents to prove it, then what would you have to say Barry of Knights of Pythias.    

  3. We all now he profited off the deal, in 3 years he will earn back his money. by renting to Educational Alliance for $30,000-$40,000  per month almost $480,000 per year that the Bialystoker could be using to bail itself out of any debt. If he was such a good Samaritan why did he just pay $1.5M Why not the full value of the building? it was valued at $3.6M in 2011 and $3.2M in 2010 how did he pay $1.5M 
    They have also refused funds offered to them for the Terr-cotta brick work back in 2006 and 2007 which records will show as well. A well though plan except for the publicity which has change the out come of Meister purchasing the Bialystoker Center Home as he did the 232 E. Medical Building……

  4. Despite the generous gesture of not throwing our vulnerable community members “into the street” it begs the question of the vital, the urgent, need to keep the thread of connection to their lives by being “allowed” to stay in their own neighborhood. With their community nearby – without family and friends nearby our elders wither.

    Anyone who has found it necessary to place a parent or loved one in a nursing home knows that having them nearby makes ALL the difference. It is already an enormously difficult shift to need to be cared for and dependent upon the “kindness of strangers”. 
    I trust Winston knew this when his “grandfather, grandmother and mother”, who “had been Bialystoker residents”, lived there. I assume he was able to visit often. The families, friends and residents of Bialystoker are asking for the same privilege. Do you really think that telling these elders and this community that “the transfer of residents is being done in an orderly fashion and according to state regulations” is somehow a balm for this wrenching of long time residents from their roots and home? Instead of a chilling and bureaucratic defense of a shameful plan? “Orderly”? Really? What a comfort.
    At the end of life there should be respect, kindness, generosity, and above all, mercy, shown by those of us who are in a position to give it.

    Not hunting to drain every last bit of profit off the backs of people who have no institutional power to fight it. 

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