An audit of the Dominican Village retirement and assisted living community in North Amityville that found “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue operating does not reflect significant recent improvements, officials from the nonprofit said.
The audit report, conducted by a Melville accounting firm and released last week, looked at two years of finances through June 30, 2015, and found operating losses for both years. Auditors found a $365,386 deficit at the end of fiscal year 2015.
But cost-cutting and a push to bring in new residents closed the deficit over the fall, officials said, and by December 31 the community showed a $235,000 surplus.
“If you had asked me six months ago, you would have heard some concern,” said Bobbianne Ng, Dominican Village chief financial officer. Since then, she said, “We have completely turned around operations.” She added: “We are at the highest occupancy in history and we have a waiting list.”
The 13-acre, 266-unit community at 565 Albany Avenue was established in 1993 under the sponsorship of the Sisters of the Order of St. Dominic, nuns whose motherhouse is next door. A 66-unit assisted living facility is licensed by the state health department; the remaining 200 units are for independent living.
The sisters consider the community a ministry, but a lay professional staff is responsible for day-to-day management and operations. The community refinanced its mortgage in 2013 with $18.3 million in tax-exempt Town of Babylon bonds.
Dominican Village’s staff learned in 2013 that what had been treated as a $1.3 million grant from the state in 1993 was in fact a loan, according to Dominican officials. Occupancy levels dipped and income from housing programs and support services, the chief revenue the community uses to support its operations, dropped also.
By June 2015, occupancy that had been more than 90 percent was at 82 percent in the independent living area, and 62 percent in the assisted living facility; revenue was $10.9 million, a four-year low, according to several audits.
Officials responded by leaving a departing administrator’s position unfilled and shaving the hours of staff members, though hours have since been restored.
A new chief executive officer, Paul Wasser, was hired in September and ordered a review of state regulations and Dominican’s licensing; as a result, some residents who would previously have been considered too infirm to stay at the assisted living facility are now permitted to stay on. Overall, 255 units are now occupied, said Wasser, who added that the community may expand in coming years.
“We believe in the actions of the Board of Directors and CEO,” said Sister Margaret McVetty, a member of the Dominican Sisters’ leadership council. “We have great hope” and will “continue to do everything we can to enhance the mission of Dominican Village,” she said.