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January 23, 2014

Manor bidder questions rival's record

A nursing home administrator whose company is in contention to buy the Otsego Manor said Friday the deal offered by her firm would create far less risk for Otsego County taxpayers than the one submitted by a competitor that is now the high bidder at $18.5 million.

Shannon Cayea-Delker is a town of Oneonta resident and the administrator for Susquehanna Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Johnson City, one of the homes run by VestraCare, a firm that has bid $15 million for the Manor.

While the VestraCare bid is lower, Cayea-Delker said Focus Ventures LLC of Rockland County, faced a lengthy delay in acquiring a certificate of need from the state Health Department for the home it acquired in Utica in 2011. That property is now called Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. It was previously called the Loretto-Utica Nursing Home.

Cayea-Delker said while the Health Department “expedited” a certificate of need for the Golden Hill nursing home it acquired in Kingston last year, the same agency delayed issuing the certificate to Focus for the Utica home after it closed on the property in 2011.

Otsego County could end up facing significant costs, she said, if Focus acquired the Manor and faced similar delays.

Her comment came a week after The Daily Star reported that Focus Ventures is now the frontrunner of the two remaining suitors, after offering the highest bid. Members of the local development corporation that was created to pick the next Manor operator are divided in the selection, and insiders said informal jockeying is taking place after one of the members, William Dornburgh of Cooperstown, questioned the track record of Focus in an interview with The Daily Star.

Taking note of the difference between the two rival bids, Cayea-Delker said, “Three and a half million (dollars) is chump change if the county is going to have to continue to be financially responsible for the Manor.”

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