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Bialystoker Nursing Home Head Finally Speaks Out

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Bialystoker Nursing Home, 228 East Broadway.

In the weeks since the Bialystoker Nursing Home announced its closure, Board Chairman Ira Mesiter has been silent — as critics alleged he was seeking to profit from the institution’s demise.  The New York Times has gotten the first interview with the embattled head of Bialystoker, which is in deep financial trouble.

In an article posted over the weekend, the Times calls the nursing home “one of the last major Jewish institutions still standing” on the Lower East Side. Meister, a real estate developer, has come under heavy criticism for the purchase of an office building next to Bialystoker last year, in what some have called a “sweetheart deal.”  Here’s how he explained the transaction to the Times:

Mr. Meister said in an interview that the board had no choice because it needed the roughly $1.5 million netted from the sale to pay the nursing home’s mounting bills, and a sale to his real estate firm — he is president of a firm, Matthew Adam Properties, that manages 100 co-op and condo buildings — made for a speedy transfer. He has leased that adjoining building to the Educational Alliance, a venerable cross between a Y.M.C.A. and a social services institution that taught generations of immigrants how to become good Americans. But Mr. Meister plans within two years to move his management business, now on East 59th Street, to the East Broadway building. Mr. Meister, 54, who grew up on the Lower East Side, said he was hurt by accusations of self-dealing and conflicts of interest, particularly because he has already put $650,000 of his family’s money into rescuing the home, money he said he may never recoup. Whatever financial moves he has made, he said, were intended to sustain a nursing home that was a last happy refuge for his ailing parents. His mother died in 2005, and his father in January. “No board member has ever made a dime from this home,” Mr. Meister said, his voice cracking with emotion. “They’ve made me out to be a villain. I’m not a villain.”

Mesiter went on to argue that the nursing home is simply not financially sustainable, given present day realities:

He and the five other members of the board have concluded that the home is no longer viable because of its dependence on Medicaid reimbursements — 58 percent of its revenue in 2009 came from Medicaid and 29 percent from Medicare. But the home’s Medicaid rates are comparatively low because its facilities are outdated, and its small area per floor requires more costly staffing under state laws. While the home once subsisted on donations from families that traced their roots to Bialystok, those have withered away, Mr. Meister said.

The home is scheduled to close late next month, after all of the residents have found alternative facilities in other communities.

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  1. Meister states The home is scheduled to close late next month, After all of the residents have found alternative facilities in other communities, Yes, but located in other BOROUGHS to be exact. 

    “$650,000 of his family’s money into rescuing the home, money he said he may never recoup” [Prove it!!] Okay, let’s see, Ira Meister’s father Max Meister lived at the Bialystoker Center FREE for 2 years. Add that up at up from $190 up to $265 per day for 2 years, 365 days a year. While he was paying a private male companion to work 4-5 days a week CASH off the books, to watch over his father. The Bialystoker is THE ONLY NOT-FOR-PROFIT KOSHER Nursing home in Manhattan. 

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