Police/FireThe Examiner

Bristal, Armonk Fire Dept. Look to Reach Understanding on Call Volume

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The Bristal assisted living facility in Armonk will be working with the community’s emergency services on a plan to limit calls to the volunteer department.

Representatives from The Bristal assisted living facility and the Armonk Fire Department will collaborate to come up with an agreement to limit calls to the department so they don’t overwhelm the volunteer emergency service.

The Bristal returned to the North Castle Planning Board last week in hopes of modifying the approved 2012 site plan, which required around-the-clock coverage of an on-site EMT at its 140-bed facility at 90 Business Park Drive. Under state Department of Health regulations, assisted living facilities are prohibited from contracting their own EMT service.

A violation had been issued in February after the town’s Building Department learned that The Bristal was not in compliance with the EMT condition.

Nicholas Cappadora, the attorney representing The Bristal, said at last Monday’s meeting that with its other 25 facilities in New York and northern New Jersey, there isn’t a similar arrangement with another municipality. The violation issued is still being adjudicated in Town Court.

Rather than taking other drastic steps for an operation that has been open for 10 years, he said The Bristal and the town should come to an agreement on coverage for the calls for service that originate there.

“The site plan’s approved, it’s operating, it’s an operational facility, the use is approved, the site plan was approved,” Cappadora said. “We’re trying to fix a specific issue. There’s always the enforcement and the enforcement action if we don’t respond. You can bring a summons for failure to comply with the site plan, which is what’s being done right now, but that takes time.”

Board Chairman Christopher Carthy asked the board if it would like to consider parameters for The Bristal to follow, but board member Michael Pollack said he didn’t believe the board was qualified to do that and should rely on more expert opinions.

“We as a board are good at site plan approval, wetlands and steep slope management and a lot of site plan issues,” Pollack said. “This is a healthcare issue, and for us to, as a Planning Board, define what are effectively potentially life-threatening emergency situations is really beyond our skill set.”

The two entities that are the experts are The Bristal and the Armonk Fire Department, said the town’s Director of Planning Adam Kaufman.

Kaufman and Carthy explained that the issues are not the emergency calls that cause problems for the volunteer responders but the requests for more routine help.

During the past few months since the issue has come to light, the facility has been more mindful of only calling 911 when there are legitimate emergencies, said Amy Silva-Magalhaes, The Bristal’s chief operating officer.

Silva-Magalhaes said in March there were 24 calls at the Armonk location, and nine of them required 911 to be contacted. In April, just six of 15 calls required 911. As of last Monday, there had been five total calls in May, with two of those for 911.

By comparison, in January the volunteer department responded to 14 calls and in February another 17, it was reported by The Bristal in March.

Either a nurse or a nurse practitioner that is on staff makes the determination whether 911 is needed, Silva-Magalhaes said.

Once the parameters of an understanding are hammered out between The Bristal and the fire department, then Town Attorney Roland Baroni and the Planning Department can work on crafting the specific language, Kaufman said.

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