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State agency to consider Foley nursing home sale

The John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility in

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

Suffolk's pending sale of the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility in Yaphank will go before a state health panel for possible approval Thursday despite the denial of a key permit by Brookhaven Town.

A 28-page staff review made public late last week by the state Public Health and Health Planning Council called for "contingent approval" of the $23-million sale. The sale "will allow the facility to continue successfully operating," the staff report said.

The report makes no mention of a Brookhaven zoning board ruling last month that bars Foley from operating as a nursing home if sold to private owners. It also does not discuss a pending lawsuit to block the sale that was brought by several lawmakers and the county union representing nursing home workers.

Brookhaven's Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously rejected the special permit request Jan. 23, ruling the county failed to prove "an unreasonable hardship."

The board was "not convinced" the county couldn't obtain a "reasonable rate of return" if it continued to operate the home because Suffolk in recent years has left the facility operating at only three-quarters capacity.

Michael Balboni, executive director of the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association, said the council review is a "separate process looking at the character and competency" of the buyers. He said that if the deal with the county fails for other reasons, "there is no harm, no foul."

Balboni said buyers Israel and Samuel Sherman "are exploring other alternatives" with the county. Balboni declined to be more specific because "we are working through options with county representatives."

Vanessa Baird Streeter, spokeswoman for County Executive Steve Bellone, this week called the zoning board's ruling "arbitrary and capricious," and said the administration "may look to challenge the decision. Therefore, the Shermans should still proceed with seeking approval from the . . . state Public Health and Health Planning Council."A council committee will take public testimony beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday. Later in the day, the full 25-member council is expected to consider the sale. If the council approves the deal, state health commissioner Nirav Shah must give final approval.

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