From the Poststar – Sunday Editorial Written By CEO Andy Cruikshank

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m a Special Interest.

I’m to blame for most, if not all the woes of our state government. I’m the reason that the New York has the multi-billion dollar deficit. Gov. Cuomo has warned you about me – through radio, print and television advertisements. He asks that you not pay me any attention.

Before you take his advice, perhaps there is more you should know. My voice speaks on behalf of the frailest and most vulnerable citizens in our community. I operate programs dedicated solely to caring for over 500 seniors in our community each year. I provide gainful employment to over 350 exceptional people. I am a senior health care provider, aka special interest.

There is much truth to this label. For 20 years, I have had the distinct honor and privilege to work on behalf of individuals who desperately need a voice. They are among the oldest of our community in terms of age; part of the “greatest generation.” They are physically disabled by disease and illness. They have conditions which limit their ability to remember the names of their own children. And they are cared for by giving, compassionate and skilled individuals. They are my special interest – guilty as charged.

In fact, I’m proud to say that I take every opportunity to speak with our elected officials on subjects affecting those we care for. I feel comfortable picking up the phone, writing a letter, and yes, even visiting them in Albany. Not surprisingly, they listen. They are wise enough to learn about issues they must deal with. They care about the ramifications of their votes. They care about our seniors. My role as a special interest? Advocate, educate and speak on behalf of those that can’t.

Over the past few weeks, Gov. Cuomo has used paid advertisements and public speeches seeking support for his budget. Recorded telephone messages from the executive are on their way. The strategy is simple – make villains out of anyone who might seek to advocate on behalf of another; or who might actually disagree with his priorities and approach. Generate public support for his plan and cast blame on those willing to advocate for others. Label them with a universally negative title – special interest.

This year, the state has a mighty hill to climb. And because of this, the need to advocate on behalf of seniors has never been greater. Nursing facilities, adult day care programs, home care services – programs which our grandparents, parents and neighbors receive the care they need.

They exist solely to assure those in need will continue to enjoy the maximum amount of independence and dignity their condition allows. They deserve a voice and have one in me.

I’m a special interest. Cause for concern is not that I advocate for others; but if a day comes when no one does.

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Fort Hudson Health System