Delay in sale of Foley nursing home

The John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility in

The John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility in Yaphank. (July 31, 2012) (Credit: Johnny Milano)

The controversial $23 million sale of the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility, slated to be completed before year's end, cannot be finalized until at least Feb. 7, when a state health council could consider the sale.

The delay is the latest setback in the proposed sale of the 264-bed Yaphank complex to private nursing home operators Israel and Samuel Sherman. It means that the nursing home will continue operations, even though the county sent out 60-day layoff notices to Foley's 189 workers a month ago.

The delay also creates a hole in Suffolk's 2013 budget, which contains almost no money for continued operations. Suffolk spends nearly $1 million monthly to subsidize operations.

Peter Constantakes, state Health Department spokesman, said the county application, received Oct. 25, is still under review. A committee of the state Public Health and Health Planning Council is expected to hear testimony about the proposed sale at its Jan. 24 meeting, Constantakes said. If approved by the panel, the sale could go before the full council at its Feb. 7 meeting, though no agenda has been set.

Michael Balboni, executive director of the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association, a nonprofit that represents long-term care providers, said the Shermans "are proceeding full steam ahead, and are ready, willing and able to provide any additional information that the state might need. They are confident . . . the application will receive favorable review."

Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider said Suffolk is, "working to complete the sale as soon as possible and have minimal impact on the residents." He said Foley workers will remain on the county payroll "until such time as the sale goes through or until a closure plan goes through." No closing plan has been drawn up, but discussions to prepare one have begun, Schneider said.

The sale faces a court challenge from the Association of Municipal Employees, whose members work at Foley. Suffolk also has applied to the Brookhaven Zoning Board of Appeals for permission for buyers to operate a nursing home on the site, now zoned for residential use, when it passes from public to private hands.

Dan Farrell, AME president, said the Bellone administration is "jumping the gun" and vowed further legal action if the county tries to close Foley. "We'll do whatever can to keep the members there working," Farrell said.

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