Suffolk revives talk on nursing home sale
The administration of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is hiring a consultant for a possible sale of the John J. Foley nursing home in Yaphank and in a memo raises the prospect of reviving talks with a buyer who walked away from the $36-million sale last year.
Administration officials say they will tour 264-bed complex in the next few weeks with a prominent national nonprofit group that also has expressed interest in running the facility. Officials declined to identify the group.
The administration told lawmakers on Monday that the county waiver committee had authorized the hiring of a Lynbrook physical therapy firm for "nonexclusive real estate and marketing services for [the] sale" of the Foley Skilled Nursing Facility. Without a waiver, Suffolk would have had to seek proposals from consultants.
"Efforts to either sell the facility or enter into an operational relationship which would eliminate annual losses . . . have not been fruitful to date," according to an administration memo. "It is therefore in the best interests of the county to expeditiously explore alternate options, including the sale of the facility as was previously approved . . . in fiscal 2011."
Legis. Kate Browning (WFP-Shirley) said she's "very angry" about Bellone's efforts, especially the possibility of new talks with major nursing home operator Kenneth Rozenberg. "It's like we're going back to the old Levy days," said Browning, referring to former County Executive Steve Levy. "He's going behind the legislature's back and doing what he wants." Browning and other lawmakers met with Bellone last week about the unnamed nonprofit's interest.
Facing a $530-million budget hole, Bellone wants to resolve the nursing home issue before unveiling his proposed 2013 budget in mid-September. Bellone says Foley requires an $8-10 million annual subsidy, which the county cannot afford. "We're open to all options -- that's why we're taking part in the tour," Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider said. "But we don't have time to go down just one track since we need a solution by September."
Schneider said county officials met recently with Rozenberg's attorney, but talks have centered only on a lawsuit by Rozenberg seeking to recover a $1.8-million deposit from the failed deal. While the attorney did not return calls for comment, Schneider did not close the door to new talks with Rozenberg: "We haven't had conversations along those lines, but the idea [that] we're willing to listen to any potential buyer speaks for itself."