T he company seeking to acquire Washington County’s public nursing home signed a binding purchase agreement last week.
Centers for Specialty Care signed a $2.4 million agreement to purchase Pleasant Valley Infirmary, more than three months after the county Board of Supervisors approved the contract.
The agreement ensures that the 122-bed public nursing home, which is located in Argyle and has been open since 1970, will be privatized, but County Attorney Roger Wickes said it could be still be a year before the Bronx-based firm takes over.
“There’s a ways to go, but the good news is we got through the details,” Wickes said, “But it’s still going to take awhile before it’s private.”
Before the infirmary can become fully privatized, the agreement will need to be approved by the state, which can take up to 12 months.
Prior to approval, the county must submit to the state a plan detailing how the facility will be run until it is transferred. Conversely, Centers for Specialty Care, which has taken over other public nursing homes, will need to submit to the state an opening plan.
In the interim, Centers for Specialty Care is expected to begin interviewing current PVI staff.
Wickes said the firm has indicated to county officials that it plans on retaining many of the current employees.
“They can’t open the doors and take care of patients without adequate staffing,” Wickes said.
The County Board of Supervisors agreed Friday to extend an incentive program for new hires at the nursing home as well as bonuses for staff members who assist in the recruitment of new nurses.
Any nurse who is hired at PVI will eligible for up to $750 to $1,500 in bonuses and any staff member who helps recruit new nurses could receive up to $250.
The county approved the sale of PVI in November, but Centers for Specialty didn’t ink the agreement until early Friday afternoon.
Wickes said the delay was due primarily to the complicated nature of such a large transaction.
He said it took attorneys working for both parties time to iron out all the details, including delineating the exact size of the parcel on which PVI stands.
“There was a lot of moving parts and a lot or work,” he said.
Wickes said the nursing home could be fully privatized by the end of this year or early next year.
The county continues to inch closer to an agreement with Rochester-based HCR Home Care on the privatization of its Public Health Department although the firm is reassessing the hospice component.
But Wickes said residents will continue to have access to end-of-life care.
“Hospice is not going anywhere,” he said. “Anyone that says hospice won’t be in Washington County is not correct. It will be here in some form or another.”
The county would only be permitted to end its hospice service if another provider came into the county, Wickes said.
County officials have admitted that HCR “isn’t crazy about” taking over the hospice component and never has been, but the firm has already signed a legally binding contract.
Wickes said the county would consider other options if HCR brought them to the table.
“If they (HCR) come to us with a better idea, if they find someone who is excited about hospice and excited about running hospice, we’ll listen,” he said. “The ball is in their court.”
The county approved an agreement late last year to sell its Public Health Department to HCR for $550,000.
Although the department is not yet private, HCR is expected to manage operations of the department until the sale goes through.
The firm has already begun interviewing employees and could be managing the day-to-day operations of the department by next month.
Many of the current nurses in the department are expected to be retained although a number of clerical positions may be cut.
The county has been trying to privatize PVI and its Public Health Department for nearly two years as it tries to curb expenses. Officials have projected that the two government entities combined will cost the county more than $3.5 million this year.