MALONE - Plans for the Franklin County Nursing Home's services to be transferred to Alice Hyde Medical Center have overcome the last hurdle needed before construction can begin.
County legislators were in the middle of their regular meeting Thursday when they got word from county Manager Tom Leitz, who was in Albany and had just finished executing a Certificate of Need for the new facility.
"It looks like that was the last hurdle we needed," said board Chairman David "Billy" Jones, D-Chateaugay.
Construction of the new facility should be able to get started as soon as spring conditions allow it, Jones said.
The county is transferring all its nursing home operations to Alice Hyde, which is building a new facility to accommodate it. It is planned to have 135 beds plus space for 30 assisted-living residents. Alice Hyde's current nursing home has 75 beds, and the county nursing home has 80. The project has been awarded about $9.3 million in state grants, and the county will contribute $1 million a year for the first 10 years.
Jones said board members were told last year that if construction could start early this year, the facility would be ready to go by the end of 2014.
"We're very happy," said Legislator Guy "Tim" Smith, D-Fort Covington.
Smith said he thinks Franklin County will start a model that other counties will emulate, working with their local hospitals to get the county out of the nursing home business.
The county has to install a sprinkler system in its current nursing home by August to meet new government guidelines. Legislators have tried to get a waiver since they will soon vacate the building, but they haven't been successful in that.
"We have to have it done," Jones said. "We thought it was kind of useless, I guess, to do it."
He said there would be serious repercussions if the county eschewed the regulations: It would stop receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.
Legislator Sue Robideau, R-Brushton, said it will add to the value of the building. Legislators have not yet decided whether they will keep the building for county use once the nursing home operations are moved out of it or if they will sell it.
To move forward with the merger, legislators agreed Thursday to execute a memorandum of understanding with Alice Hyde to lease some property.
Legislators agreed a year ago to take ownership of a 1,500-foot stretch of road between Park and Constable streets, where the new facility would be built. But county Attorney Jonathan Miller said Thursday that Alice Hyde officials have since discovered that the property is encumbered by notes and bonds, so it can't be conveyed outright yet.
Legislators instead agreed to lease the property until Alice Hyde refinances its obligations.
About 800 feet of the road was already constructed some years ago, and the county is agreeing to complete the rest of it.
The county won't pay anything for the lease.
"We're assisting them by putting in a roadway," Miller said.