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Talks on reopening Foley nursing home as dialysis center

The John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility on

The John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility on March 27, 2013. Credit: James Carbone

Talks are underway to reopen Suffolk County's John J. Foley nursing home by having Brookhaven Memorial Hospital move its downtown Patchogue dialysis operation to the Yaphank complex, which the county already has an informal agreement to sell.

The discussions, which began last fall, have involved Suffolk and Patchogue officials, the hospital and Tritec, the Setauket company whose 291 apartments and retail complex has helped spur a Main Street rejuvenation.

"I think there's a decent shot of it happening," said Mayor Paul Pontieri. But he said the deal is "far more complicated" than envisioned because of the number of parties involved.

"I don't know if chances are 60-40 or 40-60, but from where we sit, I hope we can make all the dominoes fall," Pontieri said.

County Executive Steve Bellone is "very open . . . to see if we can put through a deal" because of the potential benefits to the hospital and the village, said Bellone's deputy, Jon Schneider.

Schneider added, "It's in everyone's interest to resolve this thing sooner rather than later," because the unused Foley building costs $1.2 million a year in upkeep and $11.5 million has already been budgeted this year as revenue from a sale.

Under the proposal, the hospital would sell its Main Street Patchogue annex to a developer, giving the hospital at least part of the cash to buy the nursing home. Those familiar with the talks say the village and Tritec are interested in a deal because the hospital's Main Street location, which has 36 dialysis beds and some home nursing services, does not generate much foot traffic for the recently redeveloped west end of the village.

The hospital's downtown building is about 23,000 square feet, which could be used for shops or a hotel. Its 160 parking spaces also are valuable in a village where new restaurants and music venues have opened.

"If the property became available, if the hospital wanted to sell the property we'd always be interested," said Rob Loscalzo, Tritec chief operating officer. "If it's something we could put together, it would be a win-win for everyone."

Officials also say a deal is important to Brookhaven Memorial because the nursing home once was a steady source of patients and revenue when Foley residents needed acute care. Before Foley closed, Browning estimated the hospital made about $2 million caring for nursing home patients.

For more than a year, the county has had an $11.7 million informal agreement to sell the former county nursing home to Kenneth Gaul, who now operates a 143-bed Woodhaven Nursing Home and an adjoining assisted living facility in Port Jefferson Station. He said Dennis Cohen, a chief deputy county executive, asked him to "stand down" temporarily because there were not enough votes in the county legislature to approve the sale.

Gaul said he would move his residents from Woodhaven, built in 1971, to Foley, which was finished in 1995. He said he is open to a "joint venture" with the hospital or leasing them space.

"I'm trying to be delicate, but I'd like an answer so we can move forward," Gaul said this week.