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LAWRENCE COUNTY Officials to sell nursing home



Published: Sat, February 8, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The management firm overseeing the nursing home is pulling out today.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County is getting out of the nursing home business.

County commissioners voted 2-1 to sell the county nursing home to Sylvan Heights Realty Partners LLC of New Castle for $1.665 million. George Howley of Union Township is the only partner to come forward publicly. The others have not been named. The contract also must be approved by the county solicitor.

Commissioner Ed Fosnaught voted against the sale Tuesday, saying there were things in the proposed contract that need to be tightened up. He also said he opposes selling the nursing home to a for-profit company.

Commissioners Roger DeCarbo and Brian Burick, however, say they want to put the land back on the tax rolls.

Sylvan Heights is buying the nursing home and surrounding property on Pa. Route 65.

As part of the sales agreement, the new owners must agree to continue operating the nursing home, keep the labor union and not claim tax-exempt status.

Contract concerns

County Controller Mary Ann Reiter has some concerns about the proposed contract.

Reiter and Dan Soom, controller's office solicitor, said their concerns include the county's responsibility for any unemployment claims of people terminated by the new owners, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements that were generated when the county owned the home, and that Sylvan Heights is not on record as a corporation with the state.

Burick said many of those issues already have been addressed, and the county will continue to clear up language in the contract before the final sales agreement is signed.

Burick said they hope to have the sale complete before March 31 because that is when the county's next payment for various insurance on the nursing home is due. A final sale would mean the county would not incur that expense, he added.

DeCarbo noted that the controller's concerns about unemployment payouts to employees would be the same if the county continued operating the nursing home. He said layoffs were recommended by the current firm managing the home because of a reduction in patients. The 136-bed facility now houses about 80 people, he said.

DeCarbo said the firm now managing Hill View Manor, Compete HealthCare Resources of Horsham, Pa. is pulling out today because the county has not paid the company its $12,000 monthly fee since it took over management six months ago.

DeCarbo said he's not sure why the company hasn't been paid, but said it was the decision of the county controller.

Reiter said she did not pay the company at DeCarbo's instruction.

Reiter said DeCarbo told her the county was withholding payment until it receives more than $1 million in Medicaid reimbursement the company failed to seek when it previously managed the nursing home, in the late 1990s.

Reiter said she had assumed DeCarbo had worked something out through legal counsel concerning the withholding of payment. She said she was alerted last week that nothing had been worked out and she issued a $62,000 check to Complete HealthCare last week for the five previous months of work.

Complete HealthCare representatives could not be reached for comment.

DeCarbo said Complete HealthCare employs the administrator who oversees the home and that person also will leave today.

He said Sylvan Heights has agreed to supply an administrator for the county to run the home until the sales agreement is final.




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