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January 27, 2014

Board decides to sell Otsego Manor to Focus Ventures

State must approve higher bidder for sale to go through

COOPERSTOWN —

A divided board of trustees for the Otsego County Health Facilities Corp. today decided to sell the 174-bed Otsego Manor to Focus Ventures of Rockland County for $18.5 million.
Three of the corporation’s seven trustees parted company with the majority by voting to sell the facility to VestraCare, which operates Susquehanna Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Johnson City.
Those supporting that bid said they were more impressed with the quality of care VestraCare offered. One of the dissenters, William Dornburgh, has publicly questioned the financial underpinnings of Focus Ventures, saying he is concerned whether the company is stable enough to run the Manor. 
Those voting for Focus were businessman Richard Eastman, former Oneonta Mayor Kim Muller and Otsego County Reps. Katherine Stuligross, D- Oneonta, and Don Lindberg, R-Worcester.
Those supporting the VestraCare bid, in addition to Dornburgh, were Dr. Donald Pollock and Carol Kirkey of Oneonta. The wives of Dornburgh and Pollock are Manor residents. Kirkey's husband died there as a patient.
The vote came just after 4 p.m., following a closed-door executive session that ran about 90 minutes. A reporter for The Daily Star raised an objection to the meeting being held in secret, pointing out that the newspaper had published the amounts of the bids from the two finalists. However, the local development corporation's attorney, Shawn Griffin, advised the panel it was appropriate to close the meeting.
Sources told The Daily Star that VestraCare sweetened its initial bid of $15 million to more than $16 million before today's meeting. Griffin said the new offer was brought to him directly by VestraCare executives and he briefed the trustees on it.
Stuligross, chairwoman of the corporation, said: “Although a finalist has been selected, the process is not yet complete.”
She said the state health department must conduct a character and competency review of Focus to ensure it meets the state’s standards for nursing home operators.

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