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February 6, 2014

Manor buyer speaks about plans

By Joe Mahoney The Daily Star
Cooperstown Crier

---- — The company in line to take title to the Otsego Manor nursing home said Friday it will add an array of new health care services at the facility and eventually augment it with scores of assisted-living housing units.

“We plan to design and construct an attached or additional facility on campus to house those new services — which we will invite hospitals to provide — including medical offices, therapies and outpatient services and products,” said Joseph Zupnik, chief executive officer of the Focus Family of Companies.

Responding to a request from The Daily Star for a detailed statement on its vision for the property, Focus outlined what it called an “integrated campus concept, creating a vibrant community that provides all level of care not only to current residents of the nursing home but also future residents of the greater Otsego County area.”

Focus said it will develop assisted-living residences within a short distance of full medical care.

“Our vision aims to fully revitalize the campus and to create a totally new concept for Otsego County, a continuum of care community,” Zupnik said. “We are also confident that we can operate these facilities efficiently and make them affordable to the residents of Otsego County and the region.”

Expanding the Manor by offering assisted living and daycare programs will create “dozens” of new jobs at the complex “not to mention medium-term construction jobs,” the company said in a statement.

Kirk Dorn, a spokesman for Focus, said the company projects building from 100 to 120, housing units, varying in size, but primarily studios and one bedroom apartments. Those projects will begin about two years after Focus takes title to the Manor, as the initial goal will be to spruce up the existing nursing home.

The addition of the housing units will require an additional investment of between $20 million to $30 million, Dorn said.

Zupnik said he expects his company will keep a stake in Otsego County’s health care community “for the long run.”

“We are also keeping all 174 beds in the nursing home and have no intention of selling any part of the existing facility or services for the foreseeable future,” he said. “On the contrary, our plan calls for improving and expanding the facility.”

The revamped campus, he added, would also feature a medical equipment supplier where Manor residents, discharged patients and others will be able to purchase such items as canes, walkers, wheelchairs and beds.

Focus, which is based in Rockland County but whose businesses extend into Pennsylvania, said it will seek a local business to be its partner for the supply operation.

Picnic areas, outdoor furniture and a new garden for residents will also be installed at the Manor campus, the company said.

A narrowly divided Otsego County Healthcare Facilities Corp. board of trustees voted Monday to accept the Focus offer for the Manor — $18.5 million, the high bid for the nursing home. County officials decided last year to shed the property after spiraling deficits strained the county treasury.

Three of the seven trustees were cool to Focus. One of them, William Dornburgh of Cooperstown, questioned whether the company is financially stable, and noted it has not yet received a certificate of need for its nursing home in Utica.

Focus said Zupnik has a 100 percent approval rate for securing such certificates, noting the company has secured them from the state Department of Health three times. He recently told The Daily Star he is getting the paperwork lined up to apply for the certificate needed for the Utica home, which the company purchased in 2011.

Before issuing the certificate , the sate agency conducts a competency and character review of the applicant in order to ensure the would-be nursing home operator meets state standards.

Focus said it expects to get he certificate in six to 12 months. A delay in that process would be costly for Otsego County’s treasury, as the county is spending approximately $500,000 a month to keep the nursing home operating.