In the news story "Debate hits home" [News, Aug. 5], Chief Deputy County Executive Regina Calcaterra said that in federal nursing home ratings, the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility rated only two stars out of five, or below average. There's a reason for that.
Historically, the county executive and the legislature have under-budgeted for professional and support positions for the facility. It's not possible to maintain standards without proper staffing levels.
County officials have used the savings for positions in other departments. But staffing ratios, to be rightly compared, must consider the diagnoses and treatments required by the patient population. For example, a young patient with Huntington's disease cannot be assisted with his meal in 15 or 20 minutes. It may take an hour or more to have him drink eight ounces of juice.
In addition, the union contract makes staffing difficult because it does not reflect that the nursing home operates seven days a week.
The county nursing home has always been willing to accept patients needing the most demanding care. I believe the people of Suffolk County recognize and appreciate the work of the staff in their dedicated attention to the needs of our elderly and infirm. It is sad that our government leadership does not seem to share those sentiments.
Helen Proud, Orient
Editor's note: The writer is a former administrator of the Foley facility.
Congressional candidate Randy Altschuler says he opposes County Executive Steve Bellone's decision to sell the John J. Foley nursing home ["Altschuler opposes Foley sale," News, Aug. 13]. Among his reasons is that he believes Bellone did not involve the nursing home workers' union in the decision.
Altschuler claims to be a conservative, but what kind of conservative thinking is this?
Michael Axelrad, Quogue