Thursday, October 13, 2011

Protesting The Closing Of The Bialystoker Home

an excerpt from a recent nytimes' article
Closing a Nursing Home, and a Chapter of New York History By JOSEPH BERGER Her 98-year-old father lies under white sheets, frail and incoherent, attached to a feeding tube and a catheter. But Rose Lauria visits him nearly every day, taking a 10-minute bus ride to the historic block where the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation has towered over the Lower East Side’s tenements for 80 years, then greeting her father with a “Hey, cutie pie!” “Every day is precious,” she said. “I love him and I want to see he’s cared for properly.” But she is worried about the future quality of that care because in recent months, she has watched the three other beds in his room lose their occupants, and her father, Thomas Lauria, may soon be required to surrender his bed. The Bialystoker home, plagued by deep debt and what it regards as inadequate Medicaid reimbursements, is closing. It was opened in 1929 as a nursing home and communal center by Jewish immigrants from Bialystok — the Polish city that lent its name to the bialy and the conniving impresario of Mel Brooks’s “The Producers.” In authorizing the closing, the state’s Department of Health has ordered the home, which is scheduled to shut in late October, to find new beds for all 95 residents. Meanwhile, its 10-story building at 228 East Broadway is on the market for an asking price of more than $10 million. Ms. Lauria is upset, and not only because she will have a far longer commute from her East Village home to visit her father at his probable next stop, a nursing home in Brooklyn that has space for him. Her bigger worry is that her father, who has been at Bialystoker for 12 years and suffers from dementia and an ulcerated esophagus, will not acclimate himself to unfamiliar rooms and faces. “These people live here,” Ms. Lauria said. “They get used to the workers, the atmosphere. It becomes like their family. There’s no place like home, but this place is pretty good.” Many people in the neighborhood are upset as well, because Bialystoker is one of the last major Jewish institutions still standing there. The 10-story building on the other side of East Broadway that long housed The Forward, a Yiddish newspaper, is now a condominium apartment building. Some neighborhood residents are seeking landmark status for the tan brick, Art Deco Bialystoker building, an application that the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has begun evaluating. The home also houses a synagogue on its second floor, where daily services are held, and it, too, will close, another loss in a revitalized neighborhood that once had 500 synagogues but is now down to about a dozen. The other day inside the synagogue, a solitary, white-bearded Hasid, Yesocher Wieder, 60, swayed over a page of the rabbinical commentary called Gemara, then rose and blew a shofar, a ram’s horn. The home’s board has been accused by some critics of mismanagement, for accumulating a debt of over $8.5 million and losses of $100,000 monthly. William Quintana, the Bialystoker home’s director of recreation, accused the board and its chairman, Ira M. Meister, of conduct that was “unethical and a conflict of interest” for the sale last year of an adjoining two-story medical building to the chairman. Mr. Meister said in an interview that the board had no choice because it needed the roughly $1.5 million netted from the sale to pay the nursing home’s mounting bills, and a sale to his real estate firm — he is president of a firm, Matthew Adam Properties, that manages 100 co-op and condo buildings — made for a speedy transfer. He has leased that adjoining building to the Educational Alliance, a venerable cross between a Y.M.C.A. and a social services institution that taught generations of immigrants how to become good Americans. But Mr. Meister plans within two years to move his management business, now on East 59th Street, to the East Broadway building.
a previous 2008 post on the building of the bialystoker home another 2008 post on Bialystoker history

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