Nyack Hospital Behavioral Health Center to Open

Nyack Hospital held a ribbon cutting and open house on Thursday for the opening of the new Behavioral Health Center, which is officially set for Tuesday. The center is housed on the third floor of the hospital, and provides 26 beds and safety measures such as covered lighting and recessed shelves. According to Dr. Michael Rader, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at the hospital, with the center now being a part of the hospital emergency services and medical evaluation can be completed on location instead of transporting patients from the original center with ambulances. Rader stated that they will be treating anyone who is diagnosed with mental health issues and requires help, inlcuding the most common, depression and manic-depressive disorders, and patients will be able to access follow up treatment. Rockland’s clinic will close on Tuesday, according to Rockland County Mental Health Commissioner Mary Ann Walsh-Tozer and will provide the county with 1 million dollars this year and 2 million in 2015, though the main reason for closure was to ensure care could be easily reached for patients. An 8 million dollar grant from the State Health Care Affordability Law paid for construction and the hospital will take over costs for patient care. Rockland’s Personnel Commissioner Joan Silvestri stated that about 80 jobs will be lost when the center is closed, though hospital spokeswoman Lauren Malone stated the new center will provide 64 full and part time positions.

United Water Customers Angered For Work on Holiday

United Water customers expressed anger toward the company in recent days, when the water in many homes was shutoff. One resident, Adrienne Millman of New City, called the company and heard an automated message saying that scheduled maintenance would be taking place. Millman stated to the Journal News that she was celebrating the start of Passover with guests when dirty, brown water started coming from her tap. When she got a hold of a supervisor, they told her that the work was being done on the holiday because Clarkstown South High School would be on break. Spokeswoman for United Water Deb Rizzi stated that crews had to wait until student activities were over for the weekend to repair three water valves, which required shutting off the water, and to avoid an emergency the work had to be done quickly. According ot Rizzi customers in the area expected to be affected in West Nyack were notified on Friday, though the brown water affected more customers than the company had originally expected. When asked about the work being completed on the holiday, Rizzi stated that the company was, “Very, very apologetic.”

United Water Public Hearings

Residents of Rockland County can share their thoughts on the proposed United Water rate increases at a public hearing on April 23 and 24. Over the summer United Water submitted a request to raise revenue by 21.3 million dollars, stating that most customers’ bills would increase by $144 a year. Two state Administrative Law Judges Rafael Epstein and David Van Ort, recommended that the increase be lowered to 1.1 million dollars, making it a 15 percent increase in revenue. According to data from United Water this would make bills increase by $121 a year. The company also asked the New York State Public Service Commission in June for an increase of $60 per customer to support the 50 million dollars they spent getting approvals for the new desal plant. Due to reports that the county will run out of a water supply in coming years, the plant would take water from the Hudson, treat it, and distribute it to customers in Rockland County. Many local groups are against the plant, such as the Rockland Water Coalition, stating that the numbers may have proved lower due to the company releasing water from the Lake DeForest Reservoir into New Jersey. The plant currently stands at a cost of 150 million dollars, and will use a large amount of electricity when completed. Spokeswoman for United Water Deb Rizzi stated that the company is thankful for the judge’s decision that a rate increase is justified, and that their commitment is to ensure the customers’ receive a reliable water supply always. The hearings will be at the Felix Festa Middle School on April 23 and at the Ramapo Town Hall on April 24.

Tenants of Colton Elementary and East Ramapo Settle

The state Supreme Court has approved a settlement between the East Ramapo School District and the renters of Colton Elementary School. Justice Margaret Garvey ordered that the Congregation Bais Malka and the Hebrew Academy for Special Children will be given one million dollars in rent credit as well as credit for renovations they had completed, and will have fees for late rent waived. This will bring the approved sale of the building down from 6.6 million dollars to 5.1 million dollars, though the settlement states unknown additional credits. The sale was originally delayed since 2011 when the tenants first filed complaints that they were owed rent credit, though the sale can now move forward with the settlement and should take place in by June 30. The district included the five million dollars in the 2013-14 budget.

Large Percentage of Medicaid Put Into Summit Park Nursing Home

After a review of the sale of the Summit Park Nursing Home records show that 16.57 million dollars of the 87 million dollars in Medicaid funds the county receives is put into the nursing home, and the Summit Park Hospital only received $491,000. The next largest amount of Medicaid was 16.54 million dollars received by Northern Manor Geriatric Center in Nanuet, which is owned by Northern Services, one of the companies that bid in the sale of the nursing home. Northern Services Group and Rockland Civil Service Employees Association recently filed suits attempting to block the sale to one of the companies, stating that the county should not be able to put the hospital up for auction along with the nursing home, leading to that company backing out. Northern Services also owns Northern Review Health Care Center in Haverstraw, which obtained 11.3 million dollars in Medicaid in the last year. THe company’s Attorney stated that the facilities take in patients that for-profit nursing homes wouldn’t, and they grew into one of the largest employers in Rockland over the past thirty years. According to Susan Sherwood, Chairwoman of the Rockland County Health Facilities Corp. who is in charge of the sale of Summit Park, the LDC met Friday and an agreement may be found today, though she could not expand on the statement.

The Rockland Co. Dept. of Health Warns of Possible Hepatitis A Exposure at Local Restaurant

A confirmed case of acute Hepatitis A has been identified in a food handler at the La Fontana restaurant in Nyack. Patrons and other employees may have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus between March 19 and April 1, 2014.
The Rockland County Dept. of Health is offering free Hepatitis A vaccines to restaurant patrons and employees starting Saturday, April 12 from 11AM–5PM, Sunday, April 13 from 11AM-3PM, and Monday, April 14 from 9AM-12PM at the Rockland County Fire Training Center, 35 Fireman’s Memorial Drive in Pomona.
The Rockland County Dept. of Health recommends that all people who ate at the restaurant on March 29, March 30 and April 1, 2014 receive a Hepatitis A vaccine.
For additional information call the Div. of Disease Control & Prevention at 845-364-2997.

Bidder Backs Out of Summit Park Sale

An interested party in the purchase of the Summit Park Nursing Home backed out of the sale after a competitor filed complaints in the rabbinical court in Brooklyn to block the sale. According to Susan Sherwood, the Chairwoman of the Rockland County Health Facilities Group, a representative for the company provided a “first invite and order of constraint document”. This document ordered a court appearance, in both the rabbinical court, and according to Burt Dorfman, the attorney for Northern Services Group, the county will currently be unable to make a sale due to the case. Sherwood stated taht the county remains in talks with a buyer and unless more suits are filed, they remain on track. County Executive Ed Day stated on Thursday that he will make any decision necessary to solve the fiscal crisis, a large part of the solution being the sale of the nursing home and hospital.

Young Boy Gets Electric Shock From Outlet

According to officials the Hillcrest Fire Department responded to a call on Wednesday at Yeshiva Tzoin Yosef at 15 Windam Court to find that an outlet had shorted out and electrocuted a ten-year-old boy. Ramapo Fire Safety Inspector Adam Peltz stated that the boy had been attempting to plug in a hot glue gun when he received the shock, and that the school was inspected within the last year and passed. According to Assistant Fire Chief Chris Bowers a small fire had started from the electrical flash, but fire fighters contained it and there was very little damage. Ramapo’s Building Inspector Anthony Mallia stated that the school was built in the 1960′s and houses three yeshivas and over the years, the entire building has passed inspections and met fire and safety restrictions, never having any serious issues. According to officials the boy had been holding on to the metal chalk tray attached to the board, allowing the current to run through his right arm into his left. He was taken to Westchester Medical Center is in stable condition.

Man Jumps Off Tappan Zee Bridge

According to reports a man jumped from the Tappan Zee Bridge early this morning. State Police responded to a call at 5:18 that a man had stopped his car while driving Northbound and jumped. Police, construction employees, and the Tarrytown Fire Department helped pull the man’s body from the river, and transferred him to Westchester Medical Center, where he was officially pronounced dead by the county Medical Examiner’s office. The man’s identity is being withheld until family can be reached.

Ramapo Councilman Continues Questioning New Position

Ramapo Town Council member Daniel Friedman recently called out, for the second time, an employee of the town who also holds a job within the village of Spring Valley. Bernard Charles Jr. was hired as the Public Affairs consultant, with the town board voting 4-0 to approve the position. Charles’ wife, Brendel Charles is a member of the board as well, though she abstained from the vote. Friedman stated that he voted yes to the hiring, but he had thought that would mean Charles would leave his position as Spring Valley’s Parks and Recreation Director, which pays him $35,000 a year. In order to keep the position Friedman stated that Charles would be required to work at least 30 hours a week, and he questioned how the man could work 65 hours a week as well as sit on the board of the East Ramapo School District and have time to do a complete job. According to Charles’ time sheets for the village he works there from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Friday, and stated that he works for the town after 4:00, as well as on Saturdays and Sundays. The position for Ramapo pays Charles $5,000 dollars a month for developing programs for youth and other members of the community, and running the town’s food pantry, all in the Cultural Arts Center.