North Country lawmakers react to closure of United Helpers nursing home

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United Helpers Nursing Home, Ogdensburg, New York

OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWTI) — On Tuesday, United Helpers Rehabilitation and Senior Care located in Ogdensburg, New York announced that it will be closing its doors this September.

Following this announcement, several North Country lawmakers released statements, reacting to the facility’s closure.

This included New York State Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Mark Walczyk.

Senator Ritchie released the following statement in a public press release:

I am both devastated and heartbroken over United Helpers’ decision to close its skilled nursing facility in Ogdensburg. For more than 100 years, United Helpers has been synonymous with quality care for the North Country’s most vulnerable citizens. The decision to end over a century of caring for the elderly in Ogdensburg is a serious departure from its core mission.

United Helpers’ skilled nursing home in Ogdensburg has been an integral part of the North Country’s health care system for many years. It’s no secret though that they, like so many other elder care facilities in New York State, are struggling and have been for some time.

In my role as state senator, I have done all I can to help them overcome the challenges they face. These efforts include and are not limited to regularly meeting with administration, carrying legislation to assist with the nursing shortage and to reduce the cost of operations and organizing meetings with top-level health officials in Albany to try to convince the state to provide them with the assistance they needed.

In addition, I have also advocated for the state to increase its Medicaid reimbursement rate, voicing my concerns on this issue to New York’s Department of Health Commissioner at hearings in recent years. Despite the tireless efforts of organizations like United Helpers, the state’s refusal to raise the reimbursement rate—which has not been increased since 2008—is causing our rural nursing homes to fail financially.

In the wake of this announcement, I stand ready to work with United Helpers and our state officials to do whatever I can to keep this important facility open and prevent residents from being forced to move away from their loved ones.

NYS Senator Patty Ritchie

Assemblyman Walczyk reacted publicly on Facebook, and shared;

United Helpers has a long standing reputation of providing some of the best care in Northern New York for seniors. The news of the closing of the Ogdensburg facility is terrible for families, loved ones and employees. It’s the State who’s policies have put them in this position through waning reimbursements, increased requirements, finger pointing and all-around unfriendly business environment. If NY state wants to support our essential workers and our most vulnerable citizens, here’s a great opportunity. I stand ready to work with state Department of Health officials, United Helpers and other local stakeholders to do anything possible to help. The healthcare workers and nursing home residents have endured so much over the last year and we owe it to them to do all we can.

The decision to close United Helpers was announced by the United Helpers Board of Directors on June 15, 2021. This closure will be effective “upon completion of the safe and orderly transfer of all residents.”

The Board anticipates this to be completed by September 1, 2021.

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