Nursing home sale expected to be finalized on Friday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2014 at 12:00 am

File photo by Tom Rivers – Most of the staff at The Villages of Orleans Health & Rehabilitation Center are expected to stay as the ownership shifts from the county to Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC.

ALBION – The county-owned nursing home will soon be under the direction and ownership of a private company. The deal will be finalized on Friday with the sale retroactive to Thursday, Jan. 1, Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard said today.

He said nursing home residents and the public will see little changes in the staff. They should see investment and an improved facility over time, he said.

“I think it will be a seamless transition,” Callard said. “I expect we’ll see improvements quite readily.”

The County Legislature formed the Orleans County Health Facilities Corporation in 2013 to handle the sale of the nursing home. That corporation on Feb. 6 accepted a $7.8 million offer from Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC. That company also recently purchased three Catholic Health facilities in Buffalo. It will operate The Villages under Comprehensive at Orleans LLC.

The effort to sell the 120-bed publicly owned site was bitterly fought by many residents in 2013. The CSEA union also opposed the sale, expressing worry about residents in the nursing home and the 135 CSEA members who work there.

Cindy Troy, president of the union, said she has been encouraged by Comprehensive so far. The company is honoring the seniority of county employees in the nursing home, and not making veteran workers start at year-one pay levels.

“That’s wonderful,” Troy said. “It was unexpected.”

The employees are expected to stay in the CSEA union. Comprehensive has already presented the employees with a proposal for raises and benefits, Troy said.

The benefits aren’t as good as employees received through the county, but Troy said it’s a good offer for the workers.

“I’m pleased so far,” Troy said. “It’s going to different, and it won’t be as good as it was, but it’s not as bad as we expected.”

Some of the employees opted not to continue working at the nursing home and a few others have retired. But Troy said the majority of the employees will be back in 2015.

“People are scared and nervous, but they love their people there,” Troy said.

She expects some of the services will be restructured and the site will operate with a few less workers than under county control. She worries most about the loss of accountability by not having the site publicly owned.

“It’s change, but let’s be hopeful,” she said. “We’ll have to see how things go.”

Comprehensive reached a deal with the county in February, but then had to go through the New York State Department of Health licensure process to operate the site in Albion.

County leaders pushed to sell the nursing home after years of deficits. Legislators forecast the site could require taxpayer subsidies at $2 million or more annually.

With the nursing home out of the budget, legislators in 2015 put more money in for bridges, culverts and infrastructure work, while cutting taxes by 1.5 percent. The tax rate fell from $10.11 in 2014 to $9.89 per $1,000 of assessed property in 2015.