A demand put on the company buying the Genesee County Nursing Home by the NYS Department of Health has delayed closing on the title transfer, so in an emergency session this morning, County legislators approved a short-term lease agreement with the buyer.
The agreement will allow Premier Healthcare Management LLC to take over management of the nursing home on Jan. 1.
The county expected to be out of the nursing home business by midnight Dec. 31, so it canceled all of its third-party contracts related to the nursing home effective the last day of the year and told all county employees at the nursing home that they were going off the county's payroll.
This latest wrinkle in the sale process, therefore, caused a bit of turmoil among county officials, said Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the Legislature.
"The fact that this came up at the last minute is disconcerting to all of us," Cianfrini said.
The surprise twist in the plot isn't expected to change the eventual outcome of the sale, Cianfrini said. Officials believe the sale will go through by Jan. 15, but if it doesn't, Premier will pay the county $5,000 per month in rent for January and February. If the deal doesn't close by Feb. 28, rent payments go up to $50,000 a month.
Essentially, Cianfrini said, the health department is trying to nail down assurances that Premier isn't going to acquire the nursing home and the flip it to another buyer who will convert the building into condominiums.
That apparently happened in New York City not long ago, Cianfrini said, so the state is leery of a repeat scenario. Cianfrini doesn't think that is Premier's intention. He said Premier seems intent on establishing a strong presence in Western New York, where it's finding it easier to do business than in NYC.
Premier agreed to pay $15 million to the county to acquire the nursing home, which has been running in the red as a county operation for a decade, with deficits hitting as high as $2 million a year. Premier has already transferred $1.5 million to the county and has agreed to pay another $200,000, which is money the county will keep if the deal, for some reason, doesn't go through.