Time To Set Record Straight On County Home Sale

There has been a great deal of misinformation circulating about the proposed sale of the Chautauqua County Home and it is time to set the record straight. This process started well over a year ago when County Executive Edwards invited me and several other legislators in leadership to inquire if it was appropriate for him to seek out a professional marketing firm to seek qualified buyers for the County Home. There was general agreement to start the process and the firm of Marcus and Millichap was selected to guide the selection process.

Marcus and Millichap contacted potential buyers across the country. They received 35 requests for additional information about the County Home. Due to the surplus number of nursing homes on the market and the 14 conditions of sale imposed by the County Legislature, there were only 2 offers received. One offer of $16.5 million from Altitude Health Services and an offer from Absolut Care to lease the County Home for 10 years.

At the same time, a report was commissioned from the Center for Governmental Research by the County Legislature which cost $80,000. This report told us what we already knew, that even with the implementation of efficiencies at the County Home and the agreement of CSEA employees to offer $950,000 yearly in salary and benefit concessions, the County Home would still have a deficit of several hundred thousand dollars each year! This in spite of the fact that the County Home would also be receiving a subsidy in excess of $3 million yearly in county and federal tax dollars.

Do we listen to those using smear tactics and manufacturing unsubstantiated reasons not to sell while we continue to lose over $8,000 a day? There has been a concerted effort since the beginning by those trying to scare everyone that the current residents of the County Home would be kicked out, resident care would deteriorate, employees would be fired or receive reduced wages and County residents would have difficulty becoming residents of the County Home. All of these innuendos and insinuations are bold faced lies. Altitude Health Services addressed each and every one of these concerns in the purchase proposal and guaranteed that none of these would happen as a result of the purchase. It’s there in writing for everyone to see.

It is a shame there are scurrilous individuals out there spreading rumors that slander the reputation of Mr. Rothner and Altitude Health Services. The record is clear from the research we put into this proposed sale that there is nothing to disqualify Altitude Health Services from owning and operating a health care facility in New York. We all know too well the stringent regulations the New York State Dept. of Health will impose on anyone operating this business in this State.

A recent newspaper advertisement by unknown persons on January 22 completely misstates the Pima County Arizona official position as it exists today. In the beginning, there was apprehension about the sale of their county run facility. In subsequent discussions with those county officials I have been assured that they are very happy with the decision they made to sell their facility to Altitude Health Services. Altitude Health Services has lived up to every promise they made, and they have made additional investments in the property while also keeping residents and employees alike very happy.

This same advertisement contained another misleading statement from the only commissioner in Lancaster County, Nebraska to vote against the sale of their county owned nursing home. The issue this commissioner had with the sale concerned the price the facility was being sold for and had nothing to do with the qualities of Altitude Health Services or Mr. Rothner.

Folks, a lie told often enough becomes the truth. My research combined with that of others has proven these so-called reasons not to sell the County Home are utterly without foundation. Using smear tactics to delay and deceive us is a disservice to the taxpayers, employees and residents of the County Home. The opportunity we have before us will save the County Home from one day closing.

We are faced with a decision to sell the County Home to an enterprise which has a proven track record in the skilled care nursing business, the financial ability to expand the Dunkirk campus, create additional services and create additional employment opportunities to keep the County Home operational for years to come. Let’s pull together to make the best decision for all Chautauqua County residents and taxpayers and sell the County Home to Altitude Health Services.