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Plan for closing Mount View carries no firm date

Mount View Health Facility will continue accepting new patients until four months before it is shut down, according to the closure plan the Niagara County Legislature will vote on Tuesday.

The eight-page plan, to be submitted to the state Health Department if the Legislature goes along, does not set a closure date, although the mandates of the Berger Commission on the future of New York's health care facilities are to be carried out by June 30, 2008.

That panel called for Mount View to be replaced by an assisted living facility. However, county leaders do not want to build one and are trying to obtain an exemption from the Health Department.

"I don't know how Albany will react to this. The regional [Health Department] people were very supportive," County Manager Gregory D. Lewis said in an interview last week.

The Legislature is also to vote Tuesday on giving Senior Associates, an Amherst company that wanted to buy Mount View, the 10 days' notice required in the sale contract that the deal is off.

The county sued the Health Department in December because it claimed the Berger Commission report torpedoed the sale plans for the nursing home, licensed for 172 beds.

The state has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, although State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. has hinted broadly that he is not inclined to grant that motion. A court appearance that was to have been held before him Thursday has been put off until Aug. 9.

Once the state approves the closure plan, a shutdown date will be set, and letters announcing it will be sent to patients and their families, lawyers and doctors. The plans says meetings with residents and families to answer questions about the closure will be held within three days after the letters are sent.

Meetings with the roughly 200 employees will be held at the end of each shift. If workers quit before the nursing home closes, the county's plan calls for asking those remaining to work overtime or hiring temporaries or contract workers.

Patients, who numbered 128 last week, will receive individual transfer plans, and staffers will help pack their belongings.

Medicaid regulations require that residents be given a new bed within 50 miles of Lockport. The plan says patients will be interviewed 30 days after the transfer "to address any issues that remain outstanding."

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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