Study: Counties struggle owning nursing homes

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Ninety-two percent of county-owned nursing  homes outside New York City lost money in 2010 and are struggling to survive, a report Monday found.

Counties have been looking to flee the nursing-home business as costs rise and as they face fiscal pressures from stagnant tax revenues to pay for goverment operations.

The report from the Rochester-based Center for Governmental Research said 33 counties own nursing homes, down from 40 in 1997. Eight, including Rockland County, are in the process of selling their facilities, and five plan to put them on the block.

The New York State Health Foundation, a private New York City-based group, commissioned the study

“In recent years, six counties have sold or closed their homes, with mixed results ranging from improvements in care to state closure of one poorly performing home,” said Donald Pryor, the study’s author, said in a statement. “Other counties have kept their homes but are dealing with an increasingly rugged landscape.”

Counties historically considered running a nursing home as a way to care for its elderly, particularly those who are poor. Yet at a time of cost constraints, counties are finding the mission jeopardized as more private homes are built.

Westchester County sold its nursing home to the Westchester County Medical Center, and the facility was closed in 2009. Dutchess County sold its nursing home in 1998.

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