JOHNSTOWN - The state Department of Health fined Fulton County $10,000 for a bedsores violation from a survey it did last summer at the former Residential Health Care Facility, which is now in private hands.
County Administrative Officer Jon Stead, who said the state is "mining for money," informed the Board of Supervisors' Finance Committee of the fine Thursday.
He said the fine was levied in late June. It was only the second time in the last decade the county was fined for a survey violation involving its former infirmary, he said.
The violation came from a DOH inspection done at the former 176-bed county nursing home in June 2011.
"I believe it was related to bedsores and the handling of that," Stead said.
Stead said the fine was levied recently, but the county last year paid about $4,000 to $6,000 to do in-service training at the former infirmary to help alleviate the bedsore problem.
"We did a plan of correction," Stead told the committee. "We did everything we should do."
Stead noted that from the inspection, the county submitted the plan to DOH, performed training and other corrective measures "to the satisfaction" of the state.
Stead termed the fine "ridiculous" and said he expressed to the state that the Board of Supervisors thinks it is unreasonable.
Stead said the fine was levied to stop any future problems, but the county no longer owns the facility.
The county sold the facility to the private, Bronx-based Centers for Specialty Care on March 31. The nursing home is now known as the Fulton Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare. It was sold for $3.52 million to strengthen the county's coffers.
Stead noted he conferred with an attorney for the state. He said the Board of Supervisors has the option of paying the $10,000 fine, or entering an appeal process to dispute the original findings.
Stead said the problem is the county isn't really disputing the violation, which it thought was rectified.
"The appeal is more that we feel [the state] erred," Stead said. "I don't feel that is the case."
Stead said the attorney indicated the maximum penalty for such survey violations used to be $6,000. But, he said, that was raised to $10,000, which is now the norm.
The committee voted to approve a proposed resolution for the board to consider Aug. 13 to pay the fine.
"I don't really think the county has much of a choice," Stead said.
Johnstown 4th Ward Supervisor William Waldron asked Stead if he contacted state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna, or state Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-Newport, to protest the fine. Stead said he did not.
Committee Chairman Greg Fagan said money to pay the fine will likely come from an ongoing infirmary budget the county maintains currently despite the transition.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com