Three prominent residents lead nursing home LDC

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Orleans still owes $8.3 million on nursing home renovations

ALBION – Three Orleans County residents with long histories of community involvement have accepted the challenge to find a buyer for the 120-bed nursing home in Albion.

“If it’s going to be done, I want to make sure it’s done correctly,” said Russ Martino, the retired Yates town supervisor and former Lyndonville school principal. “I want to make sure we find a good buyer and that the nursing home will stay here.”

Legislature Chairman David Callard also named Richard DeCarlo Sr., the former Gaines town supervisor, and Richard Moy, the current Clarendon town supervisor, to the Orleans County Health Facilities Corporation. The Legislature in February voted to the form a local development corporation with the purpose of selling the nursing home.

The LDC met for the first time briefly last month. The group expects to meet regularly beginning in May. Martino said the meetings will be open to the public.

“These three gentlemen have the wherewithal to deal with the business and financial issues the task requires while being sensitive to the concerns of the people,” Callard said in a statement.

The “Concerned Citizens of Orleans County,” a group that opposes the sale of the nursing home, picketed outside the Legislature’s two meetings in March. The group worries the quality of care will suffer under private ownership.

County officials say employee health care and retirement benefits are costly under county ownership. With a private owner, those employees wouldn’t be in the state retirement system. While that would reduce some operating costs, the  local CSEA union expects staff turnover to increase  if employees are paid less with fewer benefits. There are about 100 full-time employees at the nursing home.

If The Villages stays Orleans-owned, Callard and county officials fear the facility could generate $2 to $4 million in annual deficits, straining county taxpayers.

The LDC will work with a real estate firm to market the facility. The nursing home received a $10 million expansion and renovation in 2006. The county still owes $8 million on that project, plus anther $300,000 from a renovation in 1994, according to the county treasurer’s office. The county is scheduled to be paying on the $8 million in debt until 2026.

A sale will be no sooner than Dec. 31, 2014, Callard said. Once the county identifies a buyer, the prospective new owner needs to apply for a certificate of need through the state Health Department. That process often takes 12 to 18 months, according to the county.

It took four years for Medina Memorial Hospital to sell its nursing home, Orchard Manor. That sale finally closed on Dec. 31. The new owner, Global Healthcare Services Group, LLC, has improved the facility, adding services since Jan. 1, said Jim Sinner, the Medina Memorial CEO.

“Everyone is quite happy with the care,” he told county legislators last month.

He said staff haven’t left the facility en masse.

“There hasn’t been an exodus of employees,” he said.

Sinner said overall the move to a new owner has gone smoothly. The Orchard Manor staff and community are adjusting well to Global Healthcare.

“If there was something bad happening, I assure you I’d be hearing about it,” he told legislators.