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Elected Officials Urge State to Keep Rivington House Open as a “Skilled Nursing Facility”

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Rivington House.
Rivington House.

Local elected officials are trying to make sure Rivington House, the nursing home for AIDS patients, stays open in some form. Earlier this month, it came to light that a new owner appears poised to buy the building at 45 Rivington St., hoping to convert the facility to a nursing home for the general population. VillageCare, Rivington House’s current operator, is closing the not-for-profit facility at the end of November.

Today local elected officials released a letter they sent to the acting director of the state Department of Health.  It was signed by City Council member Margaret Chin, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.  The letter urged the state to keep the location open as a “skilled nursing facility.” A similar plea was made by the human services committee of Community Board 3 earlier this month. The full board is expected to approve the measure at its monthly meeting next week.

But the elected officials, apparently fearing that the sale could happen any day, decided to underscore the community’s wishes now:

…because we understand that the closure and sale of the facility is likely imminent—and that whether or not the facility will be able to get the proper approvals will absolutely influence what buyers can use the facility for— we are writing to you now to seek immediate action on this matter at the state level. We urge you to make sure that any potential buyers are able to maintain the facility as an affordable skilled nursing facility with the same number of beds as was provided during its time as a specialty facility.

The state is reticent about keeping endangered nursing facilities open because it is trying to reduce beds and transition to more home-based care. But local officials and those involved in the property transaction have signaled that an exception might be made in this case.  It is unclear whether the de Blasio administration is willing to support the plan to keep the facility open or whether it envisions some other use for the building. The new operator wants to run the facility as a for-profit enterprise.

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  1. Deepest gratitude to our local electeds for standing up. We cannot continue to allow the integrity-impaired to prey on our most vulnerable neighbors: elders with dementia or anyone with an overwhelming health battle. They do not have agency to advocate for their own basic needs, 127 men were removed from this facility and sent to live elsewhere before the community was informed and could try to help. These men already endured a world of hurt: old age, poverty, racism, homophobia and stigmatism.
    The decent, fair, equitable thing to do is for this facility to keep as many beds as before that are affordable to the majority of people in this community. And while we are at it – let’s give the evicted patients the first right to return.
    In order to insure that the hard-working staff could keep their jobs and pensions, and to keep the not-for-profit from going under, the community decided (rightly) to compromise. In a better world it would have remained, as the lease required: “a not-for-profit health care facility in perpetuity”.
    Mayor DiBlasio won elected office precisely on the issue of equity. Now is the time, and this might as well be one of the places, to make that crystal clear.

  2. I am heartened to see the electeds taking a stand for our community. Seniors who have spent their lives in the neighborhood deserve to have a place to stay. We have an enormous at risk elderly population here in the Lower East Side and they need a safe place to age. The heartbreak of relocating a senior away from their community has been proven to expedite death, and it’s not what our city should stand for, especially under DeBlasio, whom we elected to stand up for our city’s vulnerable.

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