No questions, few answers

MAYVILLE – The latest group expressing interest in purchasing the Chautauqua County Home was introduced to the legislature – but not allowed to answer questions.

Martin and Edward Farben-blum and Shannon Cayea of VestraCare made an 11-minute presentation to the county legislature Wednesday. However, per Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville, the group did not take questions during public session.

Gould would not allow questions to be asked, because he said if they were allowed, the questioning would last two hours, on top of the regular meeting. As such, Edward Farbenblum invited legislators to ask questions following the meeting.

The county received VestraCare’s $16.5 million bid Monday. On Wednesday, the group toured the County Home.

“We are putting forth an offer to purchase the nursing home, which I understand is a contentious matter,” Edward Farbenblum said. “We want to introduce ourselves, who we are.”

The group currently owns two other facilities: One in Broome County and the other in Ulster County. Edward Farbenblum said they have since added programs to the homes.

Additionally, he said the group works very closely with local hospitals to keep patients from readmitting.

“We took a skilled nursing facility, just a skilled nursing facility, 160 beds,” Edward Farbenblum said. “And, we added to it a licensed home care agency, a medical adult day care, an outpatient therapy program, and a whole bunch of substitute post-discharge programs.”

Cayea is a licensed nursing home administrator who has been working in long-term care for around 25 years. She spoke to the legislature about the facilities’ short-term rehab programs.

“In the last couple of years, we have become a center of excellence,” she said. “We’ve worked with the University of Rochester in developing a telemedicine Parkin-son’s program. We just received national recognition. We were awarded a citation out in San Antonio for our Parkinson’s project. We do an extensive amount of work with neuromuscular diseases.”

The group was also awarded an innovative practice award from New York state for its disease management program. Additionally, Cayea will be receiving an award for the Future Business Leaders of America in Phoenix.

In the last nine weeks, the group has also closed on another county-owned nursing facility, from Ulster County.

“We’re familiar with the difficulties in taking over a county home, and we’re familiar with the political difficulties that come with that,” Edward Farbenblum said. “We’re familiar with the unions, we’re familiar with working with CSEA.”

Although per the legislative chairman the group was not allowed to take questions, Edward Farbenblum said he would be happy to return, and promised to answer any questions the legislature may have.

County Executive Greg Edwards said he is very excited to have the group as the potential home purchaser. Like in previous contracts, once there is a fully executed agreement, VestraCare will be required to make a down payment within five days. At this point, the agreement is not yet fully executed.

“The proposer here tonight asked me if I wanted his check,” Edwards said. “So, this is a much different situation than we had with the other, good, potential purchaser, that obviously didn’t have the wherewithal financially to uphold his end of the deal. When you have a proposer here tonight ready to go forward, I think that speaks volumes about their fiscal capacity to go forward and do what needs to be done to close this deal.”

Additionally, Edwards emphasized that in the agreement, which has not yet been released publicly, VestraCare intends to expand services at the County Home.

“They want to dramatically expand the services that are currently being offered at the County Home,” Edwards said. “Not just in more rehabilitation, as they’ve indicated they have done in Ulster County, but they want to add assisted living, independent living, and apartment potential, and adult day care, and specific modalities of care for people who are developmentally disabled. That is precisely what we’ve been looking for all along.”

No additional meeting times between VestraCare and the legislature were confirmed by the end of the meeting.