say that Albany County is trying everything it can—and some
things it shouldn’t—to comply with the Berger Commission’s
“right-sizing” of its nursing homes
the monthly meeting of the Albany County Legislature Tuesday
(Oct. 9), June Maniscalco read from a prepared speech: “Just
this week . . . I met the relative of an 81-year-old woman
who lives in Ravena. This woman does not drive, and unfortunately
had to take her husband from the hospital and put him a nursing
home. The choices the hospital gave for nursing homes were
two in Vermont, one in Massachusetts, and one in the Catskills.
She chose the Catskills.”
She did so because the Catskills are the closest of her options,
Maniscalco continued, but there still is no way for this woman
to visit her husband unless someone will drive her.
Why couldn’t this woman find a home to place her husband in
Albany County? Because, Maniscalco said, the woman can’t afford
a private home, and because Albany County, which operates
two nursing homes—Ann Lee and the Albany County Nursing Home—is
accepting no new residents. Thanks to the Berger Commission,
Albany County soon will have too many residents as it is.
The commission mandated that by June 2008, the county must
reduce its current number of resident beds from 314 to 250,
a number that the director of the ACNH, Gene Larrabee, has
faith will be reached or surpassed through the current freeze
on admissions and, as he told Metroland this summer,
“through natural attrition” [“Hello Nurse?” June 7].
Stories like Maniscalco’s are commonplace, circulated through
the staff and residents of the two nursing homes, and retold
by the close-knit Family Council, a group of friends and family
members of those people who are cared for within the homes,
of which Maniscalco is a member. Fellow Family Council members
Renee Barchitta and Nancy Lane joined Maniscalco to speak
before the Legislature. They said that it has become a gloomy
joke within the homes: The residents just aren’t dying off
The women went on to allege that this disparity between need
versus supply has led to some disturbing trends.
Lane, whose mother is a resident of ACNH, alleged that an
Albany County employee has been approaching dementia and Alzheimer’s
patients at ACNH, asking them if they wouldn’t “rather go
are four residents,” that she knows of, she said, “that have
been approached three or four times. Needless to say, most
days these people don’t know their own names. They are disturbing
these people. It is making them hysterical.”
It is something her father, Walter Wajda, has seen many times.
what this guy does is, he will kneel down beside a person,
and he will ask them if they want to leave, be shipped out
to another nursing home or whatever,” said Wajda, whose wife
suffers from Alzheimer’s and is a resident of the E Unit.
“These people can’t be left to make this decision for themselves.
Half the time they don’t know where they are or anything else.
To me, this is just harassment.”
This happens, he claimed, without the employee first contacting
the resident’s designated care provider.
people get very excited,” he said. “They don’t know what is
One man, Lane claimed, was told that he could go to a homeless
shelter while he waited to find a residence.
home staff is inquiring with residents who are mentally and
physically competent about options that would offer less restrictive
care,” said Kerri Battle, director of Communications for Albany
County, in an e-mail interview. “Families of all residents
are included in these considerations. Additionally, if the
nursing home staff is approached by a resident and their family
who inquire about other options, social workers are available
to assist them in researching appropriate alternate types
of care. These options may include assisted living facilities
or community based services that allow residents achieve greater
Executive Mike Breslin has committed to providing a home to
every resident that currently resides at the County’s nursing
home facilities,” Battle continued. “Under no circumstances
will any residents be asked to leave our nursing homes.”
For Barchitta and others on the Family Council, that is smoke
and mirrors. Even if that is true, what about the people who
aren’t in the county’s care yet, she asked, but need someplace
to go? She claimed that she has spoken to nurses at Ann Lee
who have told her that local hospitals are also feeling the
squeeze from the lack of low-income beds for the elderly in
the county. She was told that there are 50 people at Albany
Medical Center and numerous people at St. Peter’s Heath Center
who are waiting to be placed in a home. Both hospitals failed
to comment in time for publication.
at Albany Med said it is an ongoing problem, and they have
had to send people out of state,” Barchitta said. “The hospitals
According to the Albany County Medicaid nursing-home roster,
as of June of this year, nearly 60 county residents were living
in nursing homes outside of New York state, while more than
500 were living outside of Albany County.
Day in Court
U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of
Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese
descent, who claims that CIA agents kidnapped
him and brought him to Afghanistan where he was
imprisoned and tortured without being charged
with a crime. The Supreme Court stated that bringing
the case to trial could compromise state secrets.
The CIA denies any involvement in Masri’s abduction,
though their practice of “extraordinary rendition”—the
deportation for interrogation of suspected terrorists
to countries that practice torture—is well known.
Subsequent investigations in Europe have bolstered
Masri’s version of events, and Germany has issued
a warrant for the 13 CIA agents suspected in the
Prizes Are the Gay-Bomb
exhaustive study of sword-swallowing injuries,
the extraction of vanilla flavoring from cow dung,
the American reaction to a bottomless bowl of
soup, and the effects of Viagra on jet lag in
hamsters were among the winners at this year’s
Ig Nobel Prizes. The awards, an obvious parody
of the Nobel Prizes, are presented every year
by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research
to bizarre scientific endeavors that are humorous,
yet thought-provoking. Other winners this year
include a study of the word “the,” a study that
found rats can’t distinguish between Japanese
and Dutch when played backwards, and the U.S.
military’s proposed development of a so-called
“gay-bomb,” a pheromone-based chemical weapon
that could be dropped on enemy soldiers causing
them to become passive and horny. The military
declined to accept their award.
a Dutch Problem, Anymore
Dutch government revoked its promise to provide
24-hour security to former parliament member and
best-selling author Ayaan Hirsi Ali this week.
Hirsi Ali, a Dutch citizen and current U.S. resident,
is an outspoken critic of Islam and its treatment
of women, and has received multiple, credible
death threats, including one staked to the chest
of her slain friend and collaborator Theo van
Gogh. Due to her high profile and high security
risk, the cost to secure Hirsi Ali is around $2.8
million yearly, according to The Boston
Globe, a sum she would be unable to pay despite
the success of her autobiography, Infidel.
critics of Thomas McTygue come forward to allege that they
were interviewed by FBI agents about the controversial DPW
Two of the fiercest critics of Sara toga Springs Department
of Public Works Commissioner Thomas McTygue came forward this
week to claim that they have been interviewed multiple times
by the FBI about McTygue. David Bronner and Albert Madarassy
both claim to have spoken to the FBI regarding McTygue’s relationship
with developers, his claiming of a STAR exemption on a property
that was not his residence, and various alleged civil-rights
Madarassy, a former longtime DPW employee, had a falling out
with McTygue in the early 1990s when he backed a candidate
who was running against McTygue for commissioner. McTygue
later tried to do away with Madarassy’s position in the DPW.
Madarassy fought and kept his job, a position that still exists
Madarassy claims that he was initially contacted by the FBI
in May or June.
asked several things,” he said. “They wanted to know about
civil-rights violations in the DPW department, how DPW purchases
equipment, they wanted to know about different contractors
and their affiliations and how well they knew the commissioner.”
According to Madarassy, in his FBI interview he detailed how
DPW employees are told that if they want to be promoted they
need to support the commissioner’s political agenda.
Madarassy further claims that the first agent he spoke to
was assigned only to see if an investigation had any merit.
Since then Madrassy said other agents have been involved in
relationship do I have with developers?” asked McTyuge. “We
make them do what is necessary for developments in this city.
A lot of developers don’t like us. I don’t know what this
guy is talking about. It is just an attempt to throw everything
at the wall.”
McTygue said Madarassy has been involved in political campaigns
against him for years. “There is no truth to the charges they
are making. Nobody has been in the building asking to speak
to me, and there have been no charges made against the department.”
Bronner, who has notoriously dogged McTygue at Saratoga Springs
City Council meetings and has had the Saratoga Police Department
called on him multiple times by McTygue and his brothers and
allies, said that his multiple discussions with the FBI have
focused on McTygue’s finances and relationship with developers.
have helped thousands and thousands of people, and then I
have a handful of disgruntled people who are unhappy,” said
McTygue, “and a wacko like Bronner who attacks me at council
meetings and shouts, hollers, swears at me on the street.”
Although Madarassy and Bronner are the only two interviewees
to come forward yet, Metroland has spoken to a number
of current and former DPW employees who also claim to have
been interviewed by the FBI. Those anonymous sources have
also confirmed the names of agents and interview topics stated
by Bronner and Madarassy.
Pantries for the Capital District calls for help to combat
most common thing we hear when someone calls looking for a
food pantry is, ‘I never thought it was going to be me. I
never thought I would be in this situation,’ ” said Lynda
Schuyler, executive director of Food Pantries for the Capital
District, a coalition of 45 food pantries that serve Albany
and Rensselaer counties. “I don’t think we often consider
the things that can throw people into that situation.”
The 28-year-old organization is calling on businesses and
organizations in the Capital Region to start planning holiday
food drives, because, according to Schuyler, “The money that
we use to purchase food for the warehouse for this year is
just about gone. We have a little bit left, but not enough.
We need to supplement it with donated food.”
Inside the small warehouse attached to its office in Albany,
where the organization stores staple goods, the shelves are
running low. Some items found there are Cheerios, pasta sauce,
and canned corn, all of which are used to supplement local
pantries’ supplies. Baby formula and diapers are stacked to
the ceiling as part of the organization’s Infant Needs Project.
In an emergency, a food pantry can take supplies from the
small warehouse until they are able to purchase their own
According to Schuyler, two million meals were served by local
pantries in 2006, with the number increasing every year. “All
of our pantries have gotten bigger and bigger; every year
it’s a little more. If you go back 15 years, pantries were
going through 50 or 60 cases of food a month. Now we have
programs that are going through 3,000 pounds of food every
other week. As the price of food goes up, the amount of people
turning to food pantries goes up. That’s an absolute direct
serve almost half of the meals to children,” said Schuyler.
“Another 7 or 8 percent are elderly. At least 35 percent of
adults are working full-time or have two jobs. If you stopped
at your favorite coffee joint this morning on the way to work
and went through the drive-through, if the person who hands
you your coffee has children, he or she may visit a food pantry.
These are people that you know.”
all gets kind of dry when you talk about how many pounds of
food we’re delivering,” said Schuyler. “We’re doing it, maybe,
to keep a 3-year-old out of a shelter during Christmas. A
lot of us live with the illusion that we don’t know hungry
people, and the reality is that the only difference between
you and a person going to a food pantry is that you probably
earned a little more money last week.”
The assistant director at Food Pantries, Matthew Lyttle, explained
how the organization also helps to direct people towards different
kinds of assistance. “We’re the main number for anyone in
the city who is looking to find help with food, housing, shelter,
clothing or something for their child.”
is not a problem,” said Schuyler. “Hunger is a symptom. Nobody
goes to a food pantry because they just got their dream job
and everything is hunky dory. So what we try to do is provide
the food pantry directors with all the information they need
to move a person on and get them involved in other organizations
in the area to get to the core problem. Then they don’t need
the food pantry anymore.”
Half of all food donated to Food Pantries comes from the postal
workers’ food drives, which occur during the spring and fall,
said Schuyler. The fall drive takes place Oct. 19-20.
only thing folks need to do is go out, get what they’re going
to donate, put it in a bag, hang it on the mailbox, and the
mailman will take it away. That’s why it’s huge,” Schuyler
explained. Acceptable items for donation are nonperishable
goods that “you would give directly to a person with pride.”
Food Pantries for the Capital District will host Autumn Evening,
an event to honor volunteers’ strong commitment to end hunger
in the community, on Oct. 28. Tickets are $40, with half of
the proceeds benefiting Food Pantries for the Capital District.
Call 458-1176 until Oct. 24 for tickets.
loose ends this week-