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October 6, 2012

Partner: Countryside sale pending

By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star

---- — A sale of Countryside Care Center in Delhi could receive federal approval within the next few days, a partner in the center’s ownership company said Friday.

Ralph Reid, a partner in Leatherstocking Healthcare LLC, said that, if approved by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the home would be sold to a company he identified as Advanced Healthcare.

Stephanie Valle, a spokeswoman for Rep Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, who is helping to guide the CMS application, confirmed Friday that a memorandum of agreement for the sale had been signed by Leatherstocking and the buyer, but she would not identify the buyer.

Reid said Countryside was already preparing for the sale.

“We’re starting a list of people who want to come back,” he said, adding later that officials at the home had stopped “as of this minute” asking residents to leave.

Some residents were still departing, but were doing so on their own, he said.

The resident population at the 199-bed institution stood at 34 on Friday, state Health Department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said in an email.

Reid said that “last year, Countryside cost $2 million more than it took in.”

He blamed the losses on a reduction in Medicaid payments.

Leatherstocking’s three partners, Reid, Ernest Orts and Dale Johnson, bore that loss, Reid said.

“We are very devastated,” he said.

He said the home’s problems with regulators resulted from a cascade of events that subjected it to additional scrutiny, which, in turn, found more problems.

“We were surveyed twice as much” as other institutions, he said. “Almost every one of those violations was very, very minor.”

State Health Department records show that from September 2009 to August 2012, Countryside had 65.7 “complaints and incidents received” per 100 beds, while the statewide average was 25.5. Such complaints and incidents are not the products of state inspections.

The difference is even wider for citations issued as a result of inspections. Countryside had 32.8 citations per 100 beds, while the statewide average was 1.9. The Countryside rate of citation was more than 17 times higher than the average.

Of the 39 citations issued 19 were for quality of care and 12 were for patients’ rights. Another nine were for administration.

The home was fined $6,000 in June 2010 for “multiple deficiencies.”

According to the Health Department’s key quality measures for nursing homes, Countryside received one star out of a potential five stars in 10 of 18 categories and rated five stars in just one. Among the categories with one-star ratings were the percentage of residents with new or worsened pressure sores, the percentage of the residents who received flu vaccine and the percentage of long-term residents who experienced falls that resulted in major injury.

An inspection in March found that Countryside had “substandard quality of care” – the most severe deficiency – for medication errors. On Sept. 19, 2011, the state gave the home the same “substandard” deficiency for nutritional status. And on Sept. 7, 2011, it cited the center as substandard in the category of “not employ persons guilty of abuse.”

Delaware County has sued Leatherstocking Healthcare and Leatherstocking Realty, which owns the property, alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment and fraud and seeking $3 million in compensation. A state Supreme Court judge has thrown out part of the lawsuit on statute-of-limitations grounds, but the county has appealed that ruling.