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.