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Franklin County seeking buyers for Falling Spring nursing home

June 11, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Franklin County, Pa., officials are looking to sell the county-owned Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Franklin Farm Lane in Chambersburg, Pa.
By Roxann Miller, Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Buyers are being sought for the Franklin County-owned Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

A consultant for the Franklin County Commissioners has identified about 10 private companies that could be interested in acquiring the nursing home, which could sell for an estimated $6.5 million to $9.3 million based on market values of similar facilities.

Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Franklin Farm Lane has 186 beds in shared rooms and 223 employees. The majority of the patients receive assistance through Medicare or Medicaid.

Before they commit to offering the skilled nursing facility for sale, the commissioners are seeking public input. Comments can be offered during the commissioners’ meetings at 9:30 a.m. Thursday; Tuesday, June 18; and Thursday, June 20. They also can be made during a specially scheduled session at 6 p.m. June 18.

The board can decide at any time in the process that it does not want to proceed, Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski said.

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He and the other two commissioners expressed a desire to position the county so it is no longer a health care provider.

“The county does not compete with the private sector in any other business,” said David S. Keller, chairman of the commissioners.

The options for senior care have changed greatly over the years, Commissioner Robert Thomas said.
The county first opened an almshouse for the elderly in 1808.

“There was a time we were the only game in town,” Thomas said.

Today, Franklin County has seven other skilled nursing facilities. Consultant Susquehanna Group Advisors Inc., which is assisting the county in a real estate broker type of role, identified another 72 facilities within a 45-mile radius.

Thirty-one of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties do not own or operate nursing homes, according to Jay Wenger of Harrisburg, Pa.,-based Susquehanna Group Advisors.

Unlike some request-for-proposals processes, the Franklin County Commissioners would not need to sell the nursing home to the highest bidder, Wenger said. Instead, they could evaluate the buyers and visit their existing facilities, he said.

One factor to consider would be finding a buyer with a similar commitment to Medicare and Medicaid patients, Wenger said.

The commissioners must look closely at a potential buyer to ensure that company shares similar policies, Thomas said.

No Falling Spring resident would lose his or her bed in the process, the commissioners promised.

Wenger said he wants to meet with the facility’s residents and employees to communicate what is happening.

“Bad information and rumor is the worst thing they can have,” he said.

Several times during Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, Wenger compared the potential sale of Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to the sale of Green Acres Nursing Home in Adams County, Pa., two years ago. He said the neighboring county experienced minimal staff turnover as the nursing home became privately owned.

Laws regarding county governance in Pennsylvania require that the county provide care for the indigent, but the plethora of options today means an outside entity can handle that, Wenger said.

“There are a lot of buyers looking to expand their business models. ... They want it to be a turnkey process the day they move in,” he said.

Since 2008, the county has subsidized Falling Spring by more than $2 million, mostly for capital improvements, officials said.

The employees do an admirable job operating the center, Keller said.

Ziobrowski said he was initially opposed to the idea of selling the nursing home, especially because his paternal grandparents lived there. However, he said the sale could be a good business decision.

“It’s our job as commissioners to right-size government for our core responsibilities,” he said.

The nursing home on approximately four or five acres opened in its current location in the 1970s and has since been expanded.

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