Volume 73, Number 48 | March 31 - April 6, 2004

Village Care C.E.O. outlines new senior healthcare network vision

By Albert Amateau

Arthur Y. Webb, president and C.E.O. of Village Care of New York, faced a sympathetic audience this week at his presentation of the bold new $80 million plan to replace the 200-bed Village Nursing Home with a network of five small healthcare sites.

Acknowledging that the innovative plan presents serious challenges, Webb asserted that surveys have indicated that the change is necessary to serve the needs of present and future patients.

“Nobody wants to be in a nursing home. People want homelike settings, private rooms, private baths and quality care appropriate to their needs. If we’re not willing to put ourselves or family members in a place, we shouldn’t be running it,” he said at the March 22 presentation.

But he assured the audience of about a dozen neighbors that the current building on W. 12th and Hudson Sts. — although crowded and not suited for the variety of special needs of patients — would not be closed until all the other sites have been developed and are operating.

The change, he added, could be done in four years. Several developers are more than eager to buy the current building and are willing to sign a contract and allow the place to continue operating for four or five years, he added.

“This is a very hot property now,” said Webb. The seven-story building, completed in 1906 as a women’s residence, is in the Greenwich Village Historic District and is built to near the maximum height and density allow by zoning, said Webb. So it is not likely to be demolished but would probably be converted into high-end residential condos, he suggested.

“Finding space [for the five small facilities] will be difficult — prices are out of sight,” he said. Nevertheless, Village Care would not be competing with many developers. “We want smaller spaces than most developers need and we don’t have all the requirements for space that residential developers do,” he explained.

Yvonne Morrow, one of the volunteers who took part in the “Save the Village Nursing Home” campaign in the 1970s, said she wanted to make sure that the new Village Care facilities would take Medicaid and Medicare. “Otherwise only rich people would be able to use them,” she said.

Webb said that currently Village Nursing Home gets 82 percent of its revenue from Medicaid, 13 percent from Medicare and five percent from patient fees and private funding. “I don’t think Medicare and Medicaid will disappear, but they may be allocated differently and we just don’t know how or when that might be,” he said.

Village Care is also contemplating a Chinatown facility — not one of the five specialized sites now planned. “We completely worked it out, but it would likely be a mini-nursing home like this one,” said Webb.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick, whose aide, Gregory Brender, attended the meeting, said she supports the direction of the proposed change so far. “The building has had problems with space and the elevators,” she said. “I think they’ve done a careful analysis of the needs of patients. The Village Nursing Home has such ties to the neighborhood that I’m sure there will be some anguish about leaving the building,” Glick said, “but I think they’re taking a careful approach.”

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