CRH moves ahead with nursing home plans


By Jim Poole

A 100-bed nursing home, plus 120 jobs, may be in Schoharie County’s future.
Despite the recession, Cobleskill Regional Hospital is going ahead with the next step to replace Eden Park, Eric Stein told an audience of 150 last Wednesday.
Mr. Stein, CRH president and CEO, said the hospital’s board of directors gave approval to apply to the state Health Department for a certificate of need, which is a requirement.
“It’s a big step. I think it confirms the hospital’s interest in seeing if we could bring this facility here,” Mr. Stein said.
Speaking at the annual state of the hospital breakfast at SUNY Cobleskill, Mr. Stein said the project would cost about $30 million, plus another $5 million for an energy plant that would fuel both the hospital and the nursing home.
Eden Park closed in 2007, leaving the county without a long-term care facility. CRH later bought the former nursing home.
But Eden Park isn’t in Mr. Stein’s plans. The old home would be demolished, and the new one would be connected to the hospital.
Besides the 100 beds, it would also have 25 model adult day-care slots, Mr. Stein said, stressing that the project addresses economic development as well as long-term care.
“There would be 120 well-paying health-care jobs and jobs in construction,” he said.
A new nursing home is far from a sure thing, however. The weak economy and tight money work against it, but bigger concerns are the state budget and Medicaid.
Governor David Paterson’s proposed budget drastically trims Medicaid payments to hospitals and nursing homes. Mr. Stein projected that 84 percent of nursing home residents would be on Medicaid.
“If there’s money to build it, the problem is making it self-sustaining,” he said. “This budget cuts nursing home reimbursements.”
The “silver lining,” as Mr. Stein sees it, is timing. Getting a certificate of need takes about a year, and in that time––and a year or two beyond––Medicaid reimbursements and the economy could improve.
“This gives us time to look at the financial market,” Mr. Stein said. “This is actually a pretty good position to be in.”
The state rejected the hospital’s $6 million grant for a nursing home last year, Mr. Stein said. If plans proceed, CRH will seek other grants and raise funds for construction.
If finances improve, Mr. Stein said, “There’s a very good chance” the nursing home will be built. Without financial improvement, less so, he said.
“It’s a very solid, well-thought-out project,” Mr. Stein said. “It’s much needed in this community, and it’s the right thing to do.”