DELHI — Instead of addressing state and federal concerns, owners of Countryside Care Center in Delhi have filed a plan with the state Department of Health to close the facility.
The owners of the skilled nursing facility are in discussions to sell the operation, officials said Friday, but whatever happens, residents will be cared for.
The 199-bed facility was cited in August by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for 66 deficiencies in the past three years. They included medication errors that created immediate jeopardy conditions, according to a CMS official.
The agency gave Countryside until Sept. 13 to file a plan to correct the problems.
Two calls and an email made to the principals of Leatherstocking Healthcare LLC, which bought Countryside from Delaware County in 2006, were not returned Friday.
Countryside has submitted a closure plan with state Department of Health, regional director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Jeffrey Hall said. Countryside could not take the steps need to correct deficiencies largely because of staffing shortages, he said. A county official estimated there were about 125 residents at the facility and 200 employees.
Hall said his agency “realizes that the closure can disrupt patients and families. Our first priority is to protect the health and safety of nursing home residents.”
Delaware County Social Services Commissioner William Moon said he is in the process of reviewing the matter. Countryside has indicated that it is in the process of negotiating a sale that would keep the facility open. “We’re working closely with them to make sure residents are taken care of.”
County Supervisor James Eisel said he will be meeting with present owners next week to discuss a possible sale. “We’ll do whatever we can” to help any potential buyer, he said, and with the population getting older, there is a demand for those beds.
“We don’t want to see it close,” Eisel said.
Leatherstocking owes the county more than $550,000 from the original purchase. The county was to net about $2.6 million on the sale.
The closure plan was approved Thursday, state Department of Health spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said. Potential buyers have made inquiries and will be thoroughly vetted by his agency. A canvass of nursing homes in neighboring counties has concluded there are enough beds to meet the needs if it is closed. In that case the Department of Health will work closely with Countryside to ensure residents are relocated to the most appropriate level of care.
Several people who discussed the situation at Countryside on Friday said they were not certain what was going on.
Sheila Alvarez, a certified nursing assistant said the rumor is that there a couple of potential buyers. She has worked at the facility for 10 years. “I always though it was a good place.” She said she hasn’t noticed any changes recently. “The employees have always cared for residents as if they were our own family.”
Jennifer Beck, a cook supervisor who has worked at Countryside for four years, said she has heard about a possible sale. She hoped it was true because she wants to see it stay open. “I’ve always liked working here,” she said. “They provide good care.”
A woman who asked not to be identified said she had been visiting a relative at the facility. She said she hasn’t heard anything about any changes, and her relative has not made any complaints about care.