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March 27, 2013

Memo: Manor buyer won't give patients the boot

By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star

---- — COOPERSTOWN — If the Otsego Manor nursing home is privatized, the ability of the new operator to discharge patients who want to stay would be “severely limited” by state regulations, according to a legal analysis provided to members of the Otsego County Board of Representatives.

The legal memo, which was distributed to members of the county board’s Manor Committee this week by county attorney Ellen Coccoma, states that if the Manor is sold, “residents of Otsego Manor will remain residents of Otsego Manor.”

“After a sale is completed, a private operator’s ability to discharge a resident will be severely limited by state regulations prohibiting unsafe discharges,” the document went on to say.

Rep. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta, the Manor Committee chairwoman, said the memo was intended to detail how the various options for selling the 174-bed Manor would unfold, once the board decides how to sell the property.

The board has already decided that it wants to sell the nursing home because of the escalating county subsidy provided to the facility, an expense that officials say is straining the county’s finances and has already led to staffing reductions at some county departments.

The memo suggests the county could sell the Manor by setting up a local development corporation, a nonprofit entity being used by several other New York counties looking for buyers for their public nursing homes.

To create the LDC, the county board would first have to hold a public hearing, and later act on resolutions setting up the entity and then transferring the nursing home to it. The county would continue to operate the Manor as the licensed provider, while the LDC would “undertake the cumbersome RFP (requests for proposals) and disposition process,” according to the memo.

Coccoma’s memo discouraged the option of having the county itself manage the sale of the Manor without the assistance of an LDC. “Running the many steps of the process through multiple layers of legislative approval, under the constraints of a fixed legislative calendar and subject to political influence, elevates the perception of risk among potential bidders that the deal may fall apart or otherwise be delayed,” the memo states.

Stuligross said her committee took no votes on whether to recommend the formation of the LDC, noting that question will be taken up by the full board.

Karen Carpenter, a representative of the Civil Service Employees Association, which is opposed to privatizing the Manor, said while the privatization talk is prompting workers to mull their employment options, “they are more concerned about the impact this is going to have on the residents” of the facility.