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February 8, 2014

In Our Opinion: Talk about Manor is anything but cheap

The Daily Star

---- — A nursing home with more services, more beds, medical offices, new therapies, assisted-living residences and day-care programs that will create dozens of new jobs. 

Sounds great, doesn’t it? 

This is the plan that Focus Ventures, the company in line to take over the county’s Otsego Manor, has outlined — to the tune of $20 million to $30 million. 

This is, of course, on top of the $18.5 million the company will spend to buy the facility — and the estimated losses of $500,000 per month that the Manor has been racking up under the county’s management. 

It’s possible that Focus Ventures will be able to right the Manor’s ship and stop the bleeding. But how?

Sure, some of its proposals, like adding assisted living residential care, could help bring in more revenue. But that’s years down the road — if it happens at all. 

What about six months from now? A year from now? How is Focus going to stem the tide of red ink quickly enough to keep this from being a losing proposition?

That’s the answer we still haven’t heard. And we have a few guesses why. 

There are only so many things Focus can do, in the short term, to start saving money. We got a hint of one of them when we learned that Manor employees will be applying to keep their jobs. We wouldn’t be surprised if some (or all) of those jobs are going to have lower salaries attached to them. And if everyone’s being asked to reapply, that means there’s a good chance not everyone will be hired back. 

The local development corporation handling the sale of the Manor on behalf of the county said in a media release that Focus “has a reputation for excellence in relationships with unions and the employees they represent.” Which, if true, is great. But if Focus isn’t planning any cuts — whether of pay, benefits or jobs — we’ll be pretty surprised. 

On the other hand, if you can’t save money by cutting expenses, you can always do it by boosting revenue. So does this mean that the price tag for a Manor stay is about to go up? Again, we don’t know. 

“We don’t know anything about what this company intends to do with the facility,” Sandra Bliss of Middlefield recently noted. “The LDC has lacked transparency throughout the whole process.” 

What we do know is that we are very, very skeptical that a company such as Focus — which is still trying to sort out one of its existing facilities — can make good on all these promises. But we hope like anything that we’ll be proven wrong.