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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
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Kinney Nursing Home supporters push officials for help


GOUVERNEUR — Supporters of Kinney Nursing Home are putting out a call for residents to push politicians and state officials to keep it open.

“Here is where we are at now folks,” the Rev. Robert F. LaVeck, president of the Greater Gouverneur Council of Churches, wrote in an open letter. “There is an ever increasing spirit of fear in our community, and so people are removing their loved ones from the nursing home and at the same time, there has been a gag on any new people coming into the nursing home for a few months now. So, we are being closed down by attrition. It stinks, it stinks, it stinks and I want the rat exposed.”

The Rev. Mr. LaVeck is asking for everyone who wants to keep the nursing home open to come to the village Board of Trustees meeting at 7 p.m. March 18 in the municipal courtroom. He also suggested writing politicians to let them know the sentiment in the community.

The Rev. Mr. LaVeck and the churches started a grass-roots effort to save the nursing home from closure after news broke that the state Health Department was reviewing a plan for its closure. A decision on the nursing home has not been made.

The task force meets weekly and has been in contact with deputy Secretary of State Dierdre K. Scozzafava, a former mayor of Gouverneur, her husband, Ronald P. McDougall, the present mayor, state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, board members of Gouverneur Hospital — sister organization of the nursing home — and others, but have felt they are in a losing battle.

The silence is deafening, the Rev. Mr. LaVeck said.

“I challenge all the powers that be to get a backbone and resist, publicly, the juggernaut of state closings. The degree of gag orders that apparently has been put on everyone from the state Health Department is like a dictatorship. The hospital board is gagged. Apparently, all the politicians are gagged,” the Rev. Mr. LaVeck wrote. “I can hardly believe the degree of oppression that is coming from the state Health Department that supposedly represents the interests of our fine Gov. Cuomo.”

According to a Jan. 29 survey, the 40-bed nursing home was at 80 percent occupancy. That number continues to shrink as new patients are not coming in and others are being pulled out by family members whenever a vacancy opens in another north country nursing home because they fear a closure will send their loved ones far away, the Rev. Mr. LaVeck said.

“I’m hearing about new people leaving every two or three days,” he said. “All the ones I’ve talked to say they would come back if the nursing home stays open.”

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