People gather outside to Suffolk County Legislature auditorium for a...

People gather outside to Suffolk County Legislature auditorium for a public meeting regarding the sale of the John J. Foley nursing home. Credit: Thomas A. Ferrara

Suffolk officials said Friday they will resume taking new patients at the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility after the county legislature voted shortly after midnight to sell rather than shut down the 264-bed Yaphank complex.

The county legislature voted 12-4 to approve the $36-million sale to private operator Kenneth Rosenberg after County Executive Steve Levy agreed to a dozen concessions in intense backroom negotiations during the eight-hour meeting.

The legislature's vote, however, is contingent on getting a clarification from the Appellate Division to determine if the vote violates the court's order blocking Foley's scheduled March 31 shutdown. County Attorney Christine Malafi said special counsel Joseph Macy will return to court in Brooklyn on Tuesday to seek a clarification.

Anton Borovina, attorney for three nursing home residents and one worker, said the sale violates the court order, but noted he is reviewing with his clients whether to return to court.

If the court clears the way for the sale, the county would begin what is expected to be a lengthy transition to increase the number of patients -- which has dropped to 220 -- and keep county employees on board until the private owner takes over by year's end, at which time he could reduce staffing levels.

After three years of battling, Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) said, "This is the hardest vote for me personally and for many of my colleagues . . . we have tried to stave off the inevitable for many, many years."

Levy increased pressure on lawmakers Wednesday night by agreeing to a new four-year contract with the 6,500-member Association of Municipal Employees -- without a contract since 2009 -- and making it contingent on immediate approval of the sale. The contract, which union officials estimate is worth $16 million, provides a 2 percent pay hike this year and next.

The concessions Lindsay and Levy agreed to include $2 million in assistance for workers who might be displaced or take wage cuts and $1 million to protect hard-to-place patients. They will also reinstate the 16 workers already laid off or bumped to other jobs.

However, families of nursing home residents fretted whether the new owner would keep certain patients. George Barnes, who has a brain-injured, 38-year-old son who was turned down by four other nursing homes, said, "If the nursing home goes private, he'll be at the top of the list . . . to be moved out."

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