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What you need to know for 01/21/2018

Saratoga County nursing home selling for $14.1M

Saratoga County nursing home selling for $14.1M

A deal has been reached to sell Maplewood Manor nursing home in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County offici

A deal has been reached to sell Maplewood Manor nursing home in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County officials announced Monday.

Zenith Care Health Group was selected to purchase the 237-bed, county-owned facility by the Maplewood Manor Local Development Corporation board. A purchase and sale agreement was signed Monday in Ballston Spa.

The company will pay the county $14.1 million when the deal closes and made a $2.1 million down payment Monday, said County Administrator Spencer Hellwig.

Zenith still must obtain a license to operate the facility from the state Department of Health. The review process is expected to take anywhere from six to 18 months.

The pending sale would make Saratoga the latest of more than a dozen counties across the state that have sold their nursing homes to limit financial losses.

The county Board of Supervisors transferred ownership to the local development corporation last January so the LDC could sell the nursing home. No further approval is required from the county.

Assuming the sale is approved by the Health Department, it will culminate a three-year effort to sell the county-owned nursing home because of its multimillion-dollar financial losses. Those losses have played a large part in draining the county’s once-substantial rainy day fund and led to property tax increases in recent years.

More than 300 county employees work at Maplewood Manor. County officials believe most will be hired by the new owner.

Zenith was selected from among seven companies that made proposals in June. During their review, county officials said they “focused first and foremost on the quality of care that residents will receive, the financial stability of the buyer and the buyer’s future plans for the facility.”

Zenith Care Health Group, based in the New York City area, operates Livingston Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hudson, a formerly troubled nursing home that the company is credited with turning around. It has 120 beds.

In addition to paying the county $14.1 million, Zenith has committed to investing an additional $2.5 million in capital improvements within 18 months of taking ownership, officials said. The county had set a minimum bid for the nursing home of $11 million.

County officials said Zenith has agreed to continue caring for all current Maplewood residents and has agreed to look first to hire current employees.

“With today’s announcement, the LDC has kept its promise to find the best possible operator for Maplewood Manor,” said LDC Chairman Mo Wright, the Hadley town supervisor. “As we stressed since day one, there is a lot more at stake than just the purchase price, and we didn’t simply select the highest bidder. We made sure that Maplewood’s new owner has a track record of success, a commitment to the residents and a solid plan to provide excellent care well into the future.”

Officials said bids for the facility ranged from $11 million to $14.57 million. The other bidders have not been identified.

“Zenith has the resources necessary to invest in improvements that will revitalize Maplewood Manor financially,” Hellwig said.

Most of Maplewood’s residents are on Medicaid. Hellwig said Zenith’s business model is to invest in increased services, allowing it to claim a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate.

Hellwig also noted that the sale will place the infirmary on the private tax rolls, generating an estimated $460,000 annually for the county, the Ballston Spa school district and the village of Ballston Spa.

“Zenith Care is very happy to have been selected by the LDC today, and we are excited to begin working with Maplewood’s team to make this facility the best it can be,” Ari Schwartz, principal of Zenith Care Health Group, said in a statement released by the county.

He said he will immediately meet with Maplewood management personnel to introduce Zenith and learn more about resident, staff and community needs.

“We are totally committed to the residents, we will make immediate investments geared toward improving their quality of life and the services offered, and we will make employee retention and development a top priority,” Schwartz said.

During the Health Department review, Maplewood employees will remain county employees. Zenith employees are expected to spend time in the facility observing operations, getting to know residents and staff, and making recommendations on how the county can improve the level of care.

Schwartz will serve as CEO of Maplewood Manor and Jeffrey Vegh as chief operating officer. Both have worked in nursing homes most of their careers, according to county officials.

Zenith officials said they plan to reopen Maplewood’s closed 40-bed wing to provide more private rooms and invest in common areas such as hallways, dining, lobby, activities and social areas.

At Livingston Hills, Zenith also provided flat-screen LCD TVs, complimentary satellite television and Wi-Fi, and other quality-of-life benefits. Wright said county officials were impressed during a visit there.

“Over the past five months, the LDC board and its staff have gotten to know Zenith, and we know they are the first-class operator that the residents of Maplewood and their families deserve,” said Wright. “We fully believe that as the residents, families and employees get to know Zenith, they will be just as excited as we are about Maplewood Manor’s future.”

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