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January 10, 2014

Sellers debate last two Manor bids

A simmering behind-the-scenes disagreement has broken out among members of the Otsego County local development corporation in the selection of a private operator for the debt-plagued Otsego Manor nursing home, The Daily Star learned Friday.

Sources familiar with the debate said the highest bid for the Manor from the two companies that remain in contention is an $18.5-million offer from Focus Ventures, an investment firm from Airmont, Rockland County. It operates a 120-bed nursing home in Utica, Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

The other bid is an offer of $15 million from VestraCare, which runs nursing homes in Johnson City and Kingston.

One of the seven members of the Otsego County Healthcare Facilities Corp., William Dornburgh of Cooperstown, told The Daily Star that he wants the board to accept the offer from VestraCare because its nursing homes have been ranked by the federal government as far better than the score achieved by the Focus property in Utica.

Dornburgh, a retired bank executive who once served as the chairman of the board of trustees for a New Jersey hospital, also said he has questions about the financial soundness of Focus. He doesn't have those same concerns with Vestra, he said. He said he was concerned that the majority of the local development corporation board is favoring awarding the contract to Focus, even though, he noted, its Utica property got a "1" ranking, a low score, when it was last evaluated by the federal government in January 2013.

"I know $3.5 million isn't chump change for a county in financial trouble," he said. "But I think we should go with a company that shows it offers the best care."

One of the few county residents who had spoke at public meetings in favor of privatizing the nursing home, Dornburgh, 82, said he cares deeply about the future of the Manor, noting his wife, Patricia, is a resident there.

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