MALONE — A former hospital administrator has been hired to handle the transition as Franklin County prepares to close its nursing home this fall.
Charles P. Conole replaces Mary Palmer, who was relieved of her duties as nursing-home administrator on Jan. 22. She would have had a salary of $77,174 in 2014, according to the County Personnel Office.
“It was time to change the administration to prepare for the closure of the facility,” said County Legislature Chairman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay). “Mr. Conole has experience at that.”
Conole is being paid $3,000 a week under the contract he signed with the county and pays for his own travel and lodging while he is here, County Manager Thomas Leitz said.
He is considered a contract employee who will be covered under the county’s insurance plan.
“He is not to exceed 20 hours a week, but he’s putting in a lot more time than that,” Leitz said. “And I, for one, am very pleased with the work he’s doing.”
Conole is to be employed until the merger is complete unless the county cancels the agreement with 10 days notice, the contract states.
‘DID DUE DILIGENCE’
Conole resigned his position as administrator at E.J. Noble Hospital in Gouverneur in St. Lawrence County in 2012 following a probe by the State Department of Health into practices at the facility’s laboratory, which was closed for several weeks.
But Legislator Dr. Carl Sherwin (D-Malone) said he is confident in Conole’s abilities.
“A major factor in the decision was that he has been involved with closing down nursing homes in the past, and we wanted someone with that experience,” said Sherwin.
“It’s difficult to find a nursing-home administrator and particularly an experienced nursing-home administrator who has the licensure to be a nursing-home administrator, because there aren’t that many around,” he said.
The Health Department must approve the county’s choice to run its nursing home, so obviously the state didn’t have a problem with Conole’s appointment, Sherwin said.
“And I spoke with some folks in Gouverneur,” the legislator said. “They liked him and held him in very high regard.
“We did our due diligence, and we checked with the Department of Health before we made our decision,” Sherwin said. “And so far, we’re pleased with the results; at least I am.”
Conole, who obtained his nursing-home administrator’s license with the New York State Department of Health in 1991, was paid about $175,200 plus $21,600 in other compensation in 2011 at E.J. Noble, according to the latest Form 990 the facility filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
He takes over the nursing home in Malone as the county prepares to end its operation and merge with the Alice Hyde Medical Center Nursing Home by the end of the year.
The $35 million combined facility will provide the community with 135 skilled-nursing beds and 30 assisted-living rooms.
The site is under construction off Park Street, and the county will pay Alice Hyde $1 million a year for 10 years as its share.
Jones said that since the change in administration, the chronic staff-turnover rate seems to have leveled off.
“We’re keeping people,” the chairman said. “We’re not getting any requests-to-fill in the past few months, so things must be going well.”
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