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Franklin County narrows field of potential buyers of nursing home

Three commissioners chose two companies as finalists from 10 proposals submitted to buy the county-owned skilled nursing center on Franklin Farm Lane

August 27, 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. County officials said at least 12 groups are considering submitting proposals to buy it.
Herald-Mail file photo

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The Franklin County (Pa.) Commissioners will tour nursing homes operated by Transitions Healthcare LLC and Mid-Atlantic Health Care Acquisitions LLC as they decide whether to accept one of the firm’s proposals to buy Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

On Tuesday, the three commissioners chose the two companies as finalists from 10 proposals submitted to buy the county-owned skilled nursing center on Franklin Farm Lane.

Officials said the sale price is expected to be between $10 million and $11.6 million.

A dozen county residents offered reaction to the potential sale during a commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday. Overwhelmingly, they were opposed to the county selling Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

“I want to know if I ever need it, it’s going to be there, and I don’t have to worry about my quality of care,” Kim Wertz said.

James Faust, administrator of Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, took umbrage at suggestions that the quality of care would diminish after a sale. He said care comes from the “hearts and hands” of the team of 223 employees.

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“Just because our ownership changes doesn’t mean our quality of care is going to change,” Faust said.

The commissioners said the potential buyers indicated they plan to offer employment to the existing staff members.

Several Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center employees will be joining the commissioners on their tours in the next few weeks.

The commissioners said a final decision about the potential sale should come in mid- to late September.

Residents again questioned the commissioners on their reasoning for selling the nursing home.

Commissioner Robert Ziobrowski said that historically the county was tasked with caring for the indigent and paid for individuals’ care at the nursing home. However, he said Medicare, Medicaid and private pay options have stepped into that role, and the county no longer pays for care.

“Times have changed, and we are recognizing care is provided for the individuals and those who could not otherwise afford it by Medicaid and Medicare,” Commissioners Chairman David Keller said.

The finalists have “exceptional reputations” and a greater proportion of Medicaid residents at their facilities than Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Keller said.

About 71 percent of people at the 186-bed skilled nursing center utilize Medicaid reimbursement, he said.

Transitions Healthcare is based in Sykesville, Md., and Mid-Atlantic Health Care Acquisitions in Timonium, Md. They both operate facilities in Pennsylvania.

“All four were excellent, but there were two that seemed to bubble to the top,” said Commissioner Robert Thomas, who is participating in meetings by telephone as he recovers from a bone-marrow transplant.

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