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Mercy closure plan accepted; opening of Samaritan Summit Village delayed

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Samaritan Medical Center is one step closer to ending its receivership of Mercy Care Center of Northern New York, as the state Department of Health approved Mercy’s closure plan Feb. 22.

Samaritan has run Mercy in receivership since September 2010, when Samaritan received a state grant to construct a new elder-care facility and to address troubles at Mercy and improve the quality of care.

Krista A. Kittle, Samaritan spokeswoman, said the closure plan was a state Department of Health requirement before Mercy’s doors could be closed for good. More than 100 residents will have to relocate, and while they or their caretakers may choose a new facility anytime, many have expressed interest in moving to Samaritan Summit Village once it opens this spring.

“We are close,” Ms. Kittle said, regarding Samaritan Summit Village’s opening. “We certainly can’t open until we have those certificates. The longer we’re waiting to get those approvals, we have to keep the city updated on that.”

Samaritan Summit Village’s operating certificate will be awarded once a finalization of policies and procedures occurs, Ms. Kittle said. That process has taken longer than expected, and the floating move-in date of March 1 could be delayed to April.

Mercy’s downward spiral began a few years ago, with former administrators blaming poor Medicaid reimbursement rates. The state Department of Health, however, said the facility lacked a viable financial plan and recommended in 2010 that the closure process be expedited.

Meanwhile, Dennis A. Casey, Mercy administrator, sent a letter to Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham on Thursday explaining that Mercy’s closing and subsequent layoffs again have been postponed. In the letter, Mr. Casey said he anticipated Mercy’s closing, “and all terminations will occur during the period March 22, 2013, through April 4, 2013.”

Mr. Casey has periodically sent similar letters to Mr. Graham about Mercy’s closure.

Mercy residents received a Jan. 15 letter from Mercy’s social services and admissions director, Blair Perruccio, providing information about the pending closure and Mercy’s efforts to help residents find new homes.

Both Mercy, 218 Stone St., and Whispering Pines, the Jefferson-County owned adult home on Coffeen Street, will close, and residents will relocate to Samaritan Summit Village or another facility of their choice. About 210 people have committed to residency at Samaritan Summit Village, and await approval to move there.

Ms. Kittle said all Mercy and Whispering Pines residents know where they are moving, as do some residents of Samaritan Keep Home who wish to transfer to Samaritan Summit Village. Community residents who are not living in a skilled-nursing facility or adult home also may make Samaritan Summit Village their new residence, if they meet eligibility requirements.

Samaritan Summit Village is a 230,000-square-foot complex with 168 skilled-nursing beds, 80 assisted-living beds, and 40 enhanced-assisted-living beds. The $64 million project is at 22691 Summit Drive, on an 18-acre site donated by Washington Summit partners Michael E. Lundy and Dr. David P. Rechlin.

About 230 of Samaritan Summit Village’s 320 staff members have been hired, and the remaining 90 will come on board as the complex is completely full of residents. Ms. Kittle said the move-in will be gradual.

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