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January 23, 2014

Manor bidder: Utica home still lacks state's approval

The owner of a company that is the high bidder for Otsego Manor confirmed Wednesday that the firm has yet to win state Health Department approval to operate a Utica nursing home it acquired from a bankruptcy proceeding more than two years ago.

But Joseph Zupnik, the chief executive officer of Focus Ventures of Rockland County, also stated in response to questions posed by The Daily Star: “I don’t anticipate having issues like this with Otsego Manor.”

Zupnik said he didn’t need to immediately file an application for a state certificate of need to run the Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Home in Utica because he was appointed the receiver of the home after acquiring it in 2011 amid a bankruptcy proceeding.

The Utica home had been rated as one of the worst-run nursing homes in the United States before his company acquired it, he said.

Because it took some time to iron out some of the problems the home was facing, he said, it would have been too risky to apply earlier for the certificate, as it could have led state officials to trim the number of patients authorized at the home.

“We could have filed the CON (certificate of need), but it would have been declined,” said Zupnik. “My professionals were advised by people in the (Health) Department that without the necessary financial support the facility needs to generate on its own it wouldn’t be a good idea” to put in the application.

Filing for the certificate of need earlier, he added, “could have put the facility and its residents in harm’s way. We didn’t want to put ourselves and our residents in that position.”

He said his company has now begun to prepare to file for the certificate of need, and it is expected the application will be sent to the Health Department this year.

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