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May 1, 2014

Manor sale awaits state approval

The 174-bed Otsego Manor has been acquired by Focus Ventures for more than $18.5 million, but the deal will not be finalized until state officials approve a certificate of need for the new operator, officials said Wednesday.

The Otsego County Health Facilities Corp. approved the sale contract Wednesday afternoon after meeting with its lawyer, Shawn Griffin.

The transition from public nursing home to a private nursing home operated by Joseph Zupnik, chief executive office of Focus Ventures, will likely fall between Aug. 31 and Dec. 31, a timetable that will be determined by when state officials complete their review of the transfer, Griffin told The Daily Star.

More than 200 people are now employed at the Manor, and the contract requires Focus to allow them to apply for the jobs that they have now.

But officials also noted that Focus will be empowered to make the final call on who is kept on staff and who is not. Some Manor employees have already retired recently or signaled they plan to retire soon.

Carol Kiehn Kirkey, a member of the LDC board, said no patients will lose their bed at the Manor once the privatization is completed.

“No one will be forced to move to another location unless it’s medically necessary,” she said.

As for the employees, Kirkey said, “I want staff to understand, and I think most of them do, that there will be process by which they will apply for a new job. Our feeling is that if they like their job, and they’ve done it well here, they most likely will continue to have a job.”

The chairwoman of the LDC board, county Rep. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta, said she expects “excellent care” will continue at the Manor under the new operator.

“All the members of the LDC were impressed with the quality of care we observed during several visits to Focus Utica, which is owned by Focus Ventures. Focus Ventures offers competitive wages and benefits to their employees and works collaboratively with their union.”

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