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SSI rates force Valehaven Home for Adults to close its doors

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MASSENA — Government reimbursement that isn’t keeping pace with actual costs has forced the closure of Valehaven Home for Adults, 10 Woodlawn Ave.

“We’ve kept it open because A, we believe in what we do, and B, we were hoping that things would change,” owner James E. Kane Jr. said.

The announcement was made to staff and residents on Thursday, Mr. Kane said. At the time the decision was made, the 40-bed facility had 33 residents and a dozen staff.

Valehaven is part of Adirondack Manor Homes for Adults, which is based in Clifton Park and operates 11 licensed adult-care facilities in eight counties.

New York law defines an adult home as a licensed adult-care facility that provides long-term residential care, including room, board, housekeeping, laundry, 24-hour supervision, assistance with medications, personal care assistance, case management services and a structured activity program for people 18 or older.

Mr. Kane’s father, James E. Kane Sr., opened his first adult home in 1972 in Utica. The family bought Valehaven in 1974. “From that point of view, it’s an extremely sad, difficult time for us” to close the facility, the younger Mr. Kane said.

The primary population of the facility includes people with mental illnesses and those with very little resources, said Mr. Kane, who became involved with the business in 1984 and became owner in 1996.

Adirondack Manor Homes for Adults receives Supplemental Security Income as reimbursement for providing care, he said. Congregate Care Level III SSI pays for adult home and enriched housing program services for those who qualify based on income and assets.

Mr. Kane said the current rate of reimbursement is $1,217 per person per month, or just over $40 a day. “The rate has been getting further and further behind the cost of doing business,” he said.

“For $40 a day, we had to provide 24-hour care, 24-hour supervision, three meals a day, activities and case management,” Mr. Kane said. “We’ve been losing money for several years at that location as a result of that.”

The future didn’t seem to paint any brighter of a picture, he said.

“We’re at a point where we’re looking at a multitude of things,” Mr. Kane said. “We’re looking at a state budget that is upside down. We’re not seeing any chance on the horizon of an SSI increase. We’re facing Obamacare, which is a big thing for our company. We’re facing a minimum-wage increase, which has a significant impact on health care facilities.”

He said the company will help residents find new housing.

“It’s not easy. We’re lucky enough that we do have some other facilities, including one in Malone. For those residents that choose that option, we will transfer those that we can to those other facilities. It’s always the resident’s choice,” Mr. Kane said.

Employees could also be reassigned if they desire, he said. “The problem is most of them are all local people from Massena. For most of them, they would need to completely relocate or drive at a minimum 45 minutes to Malone,” he said.

In order to close Valehaven, Mr. Kane said, he had to submit a closure plan to the state Department of Health, which was recently approved. “We started this process a couple of months ago,” he said.

The closing date has not been finalized, Mr. Kane said, and there are no immediate plans to close other facilities.

“It’s not a decision we took lightly,” Mr. Kane said. “We thought about this for two years now and kept delaying it, hoping things would change.”

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