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January 16, 2014

Manor's top bidder defends record

 A company that is now the frontrunner to take over the Otsego Manor nursing home has been diligent about conducting background checks on all employees at its 120-bed Utica home, a spokesman said Monday.

Focus Ventures, a Rockland County investment firm, gave background checks to all employees at the Utica home, now called Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, after acquiring the home in 2011, the spokesman, Kirk Dorn, told The Daily Star.

A 2013 inspection report on a federal government web site where such reports are posted, www.medicare.gov, notes that the Utica home had not been completing the background checks on some employees. But Dorn said Focus has been doing those reports since taking over from the previous operator, and in fact went back and made sure there were criminal history checks on the staffers who had been kept on when Focus acquired the 120-bed nursing home.

The Daily Star reported Saturday that Focus is the high bidder for the Otsego Manor, offering to pay $18.5 million to Otsego County to take it over. The other finalist that remains in contention, VestraCare, has offered $15 million but has achieved significantly higher ratings on the government’s 5-point system for evaluating nursing homes. The Focus home drew a “1,” the lowest rating.

William Dornburgh of Cooperstown, one of the seven local development corporation board members who will decide later this month on the next operator of the Manor, said he has particular concerns with the criticism of Focus for not doing adequate background checks.

“Track records count with me,” said Dornburgh, a retired banker who went public with his support for VestraCare last week after it became clear to him that a majority of the LDC board favored Focus.

Dornburgh said that while he was “upbraided” by one of his LDC colleagues for speaking out in favor of the lower offer from VestraCare, “The local people here in Cooperstown are responding to me favorably for what I said. They’re patting me on the back.”

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