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May 14, 2013

Manor seller to hold first meeting

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — COOPERSTOWN — The controversial effort to privatize the Otsego Manor nursing home will kick off Wednesday when the local development corporation that will handle the sale is scheduled to hold its first organizational meeting.

Rep. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta, the chairwoman of the county’s Otsego Manor Committee, said she expects the first order of business will be to appoint the board of directors for the LDC.

Among those who have agreed to serve on it, she said, are Kim Muller, the former mayor of Oneonta and a former member of the Board of Representatives, and Rick Eastman, an Oneonta businessman who runs a general contracting cmpany called Eastman Associates.

Also expected to be tapped for the board are: Dr. Donald Pollock, the former medical director of the forerunner of the Manor, the Otsego Meadows; Carol Kiehn Kirkey of Oneonta; and William Dornburgh of Cooperstown.

Kirkey has publicly advocated that the quality of care provided at the Manor should not diminish. Her husband, Terry Kirkey, was an Alzheimer’s patient who died at the Manor in February. Dornburgh, a former nursing home administrator, told the Board of Representatives earlier this month that he agreed with the decision to sell the debt-ridden facility to a private operator. He also said his wife is a patient at the home.

Stuligross said she and fellow Rep. Donald Lindberg, R-Worcester, are also expected to be directors on the organizational formally called the Otsego County Health Facilities Corporation. The board’s focus will not be to re-evaluate the decision to sell the facility but to find a qualified buyer, she said.

All of the board members will serve without pay, she said, and the panel’s meetings will be open to the public. The LDC is expected to incur some costs, including having a professional appraisal of the Manor, she said.

The privatization of the 174-bed Manor is strongly opposed by the union for county workers, the Civil Service Employees Association. Mark Kotzin, spokesman for CSEA, said he expects the union will be filing a lawsuit challenging the creation of the LDC.

Maureen Culbert of Springfield, a patient advocate who has led a grassroots effort opposed to the privatization, said the county board fumbled an opportunity to get on top of the Manor’s deteriorating financial situation in 2010.

“It should have been addressed at that time,” she said.

Culbert said she remains disappointed that the majority of board members have refused to consider alternatives to selling the home.

The meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the county office building in Cooperstown.