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At the turn of the 20th century, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death. Fearing the disease might reach epidemic proportions following the return of the World War I soldiers and sailors, the New York State Legislature enacted a law that required every county with a population of more than 35,000 to establish a tuberculosis hospital within the county. The Columbia County Supervisors searched for an appropriate spot and picked the center of Columbia County, at the eastern entrance to Philmont. The county purchased 62 acres of the Michaels property (originally part of the Philip Clum farm at the top of Main Street. The building (at a cost of $73,000) was completed by November 1920 with patients arriving within 2 days of the open house. An addition to the hospital (Children's Pavilion) was started in 1929. The brick structure connected to the hospital was dedicated and opened on October 6, 1930.
The TB Sanatorium stayed open until 1951 when tuberculosis was well on the way to being eradicated. Being a practical group, the County Supervisors invested an additional $133,000 for renovations and in 1953, reopened the building as the County Home with residents from the Old Ghent Home (The Almshouse) moving in December 21, 1953. Two decades later the Columbia County Board of Supervisors approved construction of a $1.8 million facility-Health Related Facility at Pine Haven. With the addition of six acres purchased from George Harder, the new building was ready for the groundbreaking in the summer of 1977 with residents moving from the old building to the new facility in November of 1978. In the mid 1980s the NYS Health Department gave approval for 40 additional Skilled Nursing Home beds. That addition was completed in 1985.
Today Pine Haven continues to serve as the county nursing home. The home recently earned the highest overall rating in Columbia County in a Medicare survey. It currently has 120 beds available for Health related care and Skilled Nursing Care. Pine Haven not only provides nursing care, but is also providing social activities for the residents. There is currently an activities room with a small library, television area, Wii gaming system, and space for arts and crafts. An outside pavilion was added a couple of years ago for resident use during the nice weather. The well-trained Pine Haven staff endeavors to help each resident to function to the best of his/her ability physically, socially and emotionally.
The future of Pine Haven has been a hot topic in the county for the past few months. Ron DeVito, a developer, has approached the County Board of Supervisors with a plan to build a facility on approximately 20 acres in the Valatie/Kinderhook area, move the current residents to the new facility and attract additional residents possibly from outside the county limits. The new facility would include independent living, assisted living areas both of which could serve as a feeders to the skilled nursing areas. The county would lease from the developer for the portion of the campus that will replace Pine Haven. A new facility or a major renovation to the present facility would mean better Medicaid reimbursements. If this move is made, the county could sell or possibly turn the Philmont facility into a training center, although rumors include using the facilities to house temporary homeless individuals and families currently housed in various motels in Hudson and Craryville.
The Philmont Board of Trustees and the Claverack Board of Trustees each passed resolutions opposing the move because of the devastating effect it would have on the Village of Philmont and the local economy. The Village of Valatie Board of Trustees passed a similar resolution because of concerns about impacts to the neighboring communities in and around Valatie and adequate water and sewer capacity. Many are perplexed by the plan because the Village of Valatie has numerous water and sewer concerns while the Village of Philmont, which is located at the geographic center of the county is operating far below current system capacity. Also, Pine Haven is on a complex that spans close to 50 acres where new facilities could be added and would compliment the other senior facilities nearby; Terrace Apartments, Richardson Hall and the Office of the Aging, which will be located 3 miles away at the old Ockawamick building. County residents and local politicians are dismayed that there has been very little public input and communication prior to the implementation of the county's plan.
So the story of Pine Haven's future is still uncertain.
Thanks to Charles Nichols, Dot Bowes and Valinda Brandow for information contained in this article.