Countryside Care is closed, its residents dispersed, its workers idled and officials are working to find a buyer. But there’s another group that’s also been affected by its closure: its vendors.
Nicole Robinson is owner of Quality Medical Staffing LLC, which supplied licensed practical nurses to Countryside for “seven or eight months,” she said.
Leatherstocking Healthcare LLC, which ran Countryside, owes her $10,000, she said.
Robinson said she would have little choice but to take Leatherstocking and Countryside to court if the balance isn’t paid.
“We’re a small business, and we just can’t afford to let customers just walk away from the services,” she said. “We pay our nurses on a weekly and sometimes a daily basis to work at various facilities. We’ve paid them up front, so we’re already out of pocket several thousand dollars.”
Robinson’s small business is based in Louisiana. At one time, she said, she was an agency nurse herself and then did staffing work for other companies before striking out on her own seven years ago.
“We specialize in assisting rural facilities with their supplemental staffing needs, so it’s not unusual for us to be in Louisiana and dealing with someone in Montana or New York,” she said.
However, she’s now asking herself whether her company was brought in to Countryside because “local staffing agencies won’t provide services to (Countryside)” as a result of its payment history.
Robinson said she was directed to send bills to Rosemarie Reid, wife of Ralph Reid, one of Leatherstocking’s owners.
“For the last couple of weeks, I’ve tried to contact her by email and also by phone, and she has not responded to any of our calls or emails,” Robinson said. “The facility began directing me to her at this alternate number, and the last time I called, she had taken the voicemail off. You can’t even leave a message on the phone.”
She also tried to call another owner, Ernest Orts, on Monday at his job at Folts Homes in Herkimer. She hasn’t heard back, she said.
That may be because Orts, who was chief operating officer at Folts, and Reid, who was chief executive officer, no longer work there.
An emailed statement from the company Thursday said that their positions had been eliminated because of “financial considerations,” and that the two chose to resign. The statement did not explain how they could resign from jobs that no longer existed.
Reached by phone, Reid confirmed he had resigned but did not mention that Folts had eliminated his position.
“I’m moving to Florida,” he said when asked to explain what happened.
“Since we were selling Delhi (Countryside) anyway – I’ve had a home down there for a few years – and my kids are all grown, we decided it was the right time to do it.”
Asked if he was retiring, Reid hesitated and then agreed.
“I’ll have to do something down there, but probably not healthcare,” he said.
He denied that he was asked to leave Folts, and when asked directly if the decision was made entirely on his own, he said, “Yes.”
He also denied that Leatherstocking would be dissolved or file for bankruptcy, saying a potential new owner would be buying Leatherstocking.
Whether a new owner would assume Leatherstocking’s debts or its current owners would be responsible, Brian Ward, owner of Wards Off Fire of Edmeston, says he’s owed $700 for maintaining Countryside’s fire-suppression system and its extinguishers, along with testing its hydrants. Ward said he’s been sending invoices since May.
“We mailed it, faxed it … How much more can you do?” he asked. “You can’t call them because they don’t answer the phone.”
Ward said he’s that a one-man operation, and that legal action probably would not be worth the trouble.
“I was hoping they would be gracious enough to take care of their responsibility,” he said. “What’s it gonna cost me to take legal action? If the lawyers are going to eat up a third of it or better, what am I doing?”
Ward said he took care of his responsibility to keep up with inspections and to warn Countryside when inspections were due.
“Because I was doing it in good faith, they should be doing it (paying) in good faith,” he said, adding, “They were always getting their money.”