A task force assembled to look at Essex County's options for its Horace Nye Nursing Home has recommended selling it to a company based in the Bronx.
The full Essex County board could vote on the final sale as early as their next regular meeting on Monday.
The task force voted unanimously to sell Horace Nye to the Centers for Specialty Care, which runs about 15 to 20 other nursing and rehabilitation facilities in New York and New Jersey. The other bidders being considered were Gerald J. Woods CPA in Nassau County, which offered $4 million, and Elliot Management Group in Rockland County, which bid $4.1 million.
In April, the task force designated a subcommittee to research or visit at least one facility run by each of the bidders. Members of the subcommittee reported back to the rest of the task force on Tuesday.
Subcommittee Chairman David Blades said he and his group tried hard to look at each of the concerns brought up throughout the nursing home debate and address them.
Each member focused on a different aspect of the seven nursing homes they visited: Blades focused on the outside of each facility and the response to it from the community, while Elizabethtown town Supervisor Margaret Bartley focused on safety and the inside of each facility. Other subcommittee members looked at leisure activities and food, staff and services, and administration.
The group also did a pre-visit to Horace Nye to learn what they should look for at the nursing homes they visited.
Each of the members of the subcommittee agreed that they were surprised how overwhelmingly good they felt about Centers for Specialty Care.
Bartley said the Centers for Specialty Care generally invest in each facility when they take it over, making safety and comfort fixes.
"They are very proactive," Bartley said, according to minutes from the meeting in Elizabethtown. "They solve problems before they happen rather than wait for the problem to develop."
Blades said Eliot Management Group had made clear in its bid that it would look at turning Horace Nye into an assisted living facility rather than a skilled nursing facility. The task force was concerned that Gerald Woods only operates one nursing home now, so it was difficult to tell how successful that company would be in taking over Horace Nye.
North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi, who chaired the task force, told the Enterprise it recommended approving the bid under the conditions that Essex County residents be given priority as residents at the facility in the future, current patients can stay as long as they wish, and all members of the nursing home union are offered jobs as long as they complete an application process and successful background check.
The task force was made up of eight supervisors and four department heads, but all 17 supervisors and seven department heads attended its Tuesday meeting.
At a Ways and Means Committee meeting before the task force's, Moriah town Supervisor Tom Scozzafava tried to get the committee to set a public meeting before the nursing home is sold. The resolution didn't pass, with a 9-9 vote. Politi said he didn't think a public meeting is necessary.
"We beat it to death," Politi told the Enterprise Thursday in a phone interview. "The sale of the nursing home is really about continuing to have a quality nursing home facility in place with priority to Essex County residents and employees and at a great financial savings to Essex County taxpayers, and it's all about having it both ways."
He said that from the subcommittee presentation, he doesn't know how anyone could draw any conclusion other than that the county would have it both ways if it lets Center for Specialty Care buy the facility.