Broome County Executive Jason Garnar has issued a State of Emergency for the county-owned Willow Point Nursing Home due to a staff shortage.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)

Garnar has suspended admissions to the facility in Vestal and assembled a rapid response team to provide enhanced monitoring and quickly take action where needed.  The County, which already closed two units at the facility, is prepared to close another unit as the census at the nursing home continues to decline.

Garnar says there has been an ongoing staffing issue for over a year as healthcare workers are burned out from the pressure of the job compounded by the pandemic, people leaving due to the mandate that all healthcare workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 and fewer people entering the field. Broome boosted salaries earlier this year for Certified Nursing Assistants and has budgeted another $3-an-hour raise for CNAs.

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The Democrat says the county has been losing money on the nursing home and rehabilitation and says all options are on the table, including the idea of selling the facility to a private operator.

With the earlier closing of two units, the capacity at Willow Point has shrunk from 296 beds to 216 beds.

The County Executive’s statement says the health and safety of residents at Willow Point is the top priority of the county and the announced steps are aimed at making sure the facility has the resources it needs to “continue offering the highest quality care for residents in the short term.” 

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