HOLLIDAYSBURG - Blair County commissioners voted Thursday to hire a Harrisburg-area attorney to represent the county in efforts to potentially sell Valley View Home.
Blair County solicitor Nathan Karn endorsed the hiring of Louis J. Capozzi Jr., who specializes in health care, regulatory compliance, reimbursement issues and labor contract negotiations.
Capozzi has "a good understanding" of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and related factors that will be relevant if the home's ownership is transferred to a private entity, Karn said.
"He appears to have an extensive record in dealing with nursing home sales," Commissioners Chairman Terry Tomassetti said.
Commissioners, in October, announced their interest in exploring the option of selling Valley View, then signed an agreement on Oct. 23 with a real estate investment company, Marcus & Millichap of Chicago, to market the facility at $13.5 million.
The county will pay Capozzi an hourly fee of $200, which Karn and Tomassetti described as reasonable, considering the attorney's expertise and higher fees quoted by Capozzi's associates.
While the county's agreement with Capozzi does not identify a cap on the cost of services, Tomassetti offered an estimate of $30,000, from start-to-finish, resulting in a sales agreement.
While the proceeds from a sale would likely cover that cost, county officials said the general fund would cover Capozzi's expenses if a sale isn't completed.
The next step will be development of a Request for Proposals (RFP) that Marcus & Millichap will use in marketing the facility to potential buyers. The document is expected to describe the home in detail and include recommendations likely to become part of a sales agreement.
Tomassetti named several considerations for the RFP, including language addressing beds for current and future residents, maintenance of the facility as a nursing home, requirements for potential bidders and retention of current employees.
Commissioners Diane Meling and Ted Beam Jr. agreed to review Tomassetti's list and offer input at the board's Nov. 13 meeting.
Valley View Home employees represented by the Service Employees International Union, who have urged commissioners not to sell Valley View Home, said they are interested in the RFP language. Union leader Dawn Futrell, who represents nurse's aides and other employees, said she would like commissioners to require buyers to recognize current labor unions and existing labor agreements.
In the current labor contract with the SEIU Healthcare, the county is obligated to "meet and discuss any such transfer or assignment (of ownership) with the union, prior to the time of transfer or ownership."
The contract with Valley View employees represented by OPEIU [Office and Professional Employees International Union] Healthcare, which represents nurses at the home, requires the county, in the event that it sells, leases or transfers the facility in a way that results in possible layoff, furlough or termination, "to attempt, in good faith, to arrange for the placement of such employees with a new employer."