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December 26, 2013

Manor suitors down to two

By Joe Mahoney The Daily Star
Cooperstown Crier

---- — The local development corporation created by Otsego County to privatize the debt-ridden Otsego Manor nursing home has cut the list of suitors to two finalists — VestraCare, based in Johnson City, and Focus Ventures LLC of Airmont.

Bassett Healthcare Network, which was among the initial bidders, has been eliminated from consideration, officials said.

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, the LDC expressed appreciation to Bassett for offering assistance in keeping the Manor open in the event no viable proposals were received by the county.

Both finalists have made commitments to operate the Manor for at least 10 years if they end up with the keys to the facility, officials said. And both VestraCare and Focus Ventures said they would consider keeping existing Manor employees on staff if they take title to the 174-bed nursing home.

County Rep. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta, the chairwoman of the local development corporation, declined to release how much money each company is offering to pay for the Manor. But she said she is pleased that both firms are willing to spend a significant sum to acquire the Manor.

Had the bidders not offered a sufficient amount for the nursing home, she said her corporation was poised to keep the facility under county ownership.

“Initially, we were told to expect two to four responses” to the county’s request for proposals, Stuligross said. “We were ecstatic when we got eight.”

She also said she and the other Healthcare Facilities Corporation members visited nursing homes run by the various bidders and were “very pleased” with the quality of care offered by VestraCare and Focus Ventures.

A final selection is expected to be determined when the Health Facilities Corporation meets at 2 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Manor. The LDC said it is hoping to complete the sale of the Manor before the end of 2014.

VestraCare, Focus Ventures and Bassett were among five bidders who survived the first cut in November. At that time, The Daily Star identified the other two potential buyers as the Centers for Specialty Care Corp. in the Bronx and Personal Healthcare of Tarrytown.

Vestracare operates the Susquehanna Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Johnson City. It added to its portfolio earlier this year when it acquired the Golden Hill nursing home in Kingston from Ulster County for $11.25 million.

Focus Ventures runs a 120-bed nursing home in Utica and several other health care businesses.