HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Philadelphia company that owns and manages several long-term nursing care facilities will buy Valley View Home for $16.5 million.
Commissioners Terry Tomassetti and Diane Meling voted Tuesday to sell the longtime county nursing home to Reliant Senior Care Management Inc., which outbid TL Management LLC, a Brooklyn, N.Y., investment company offering $16.1 million.
The vote in favor of selling prompted about 15 Valley View employees at the commissioners' meeting to call out "Shame, shame," as they stood up and walked out of the room, some shedding tears.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Valley View workers get up and leave chanting “shame” during the Blair County commissioners’ vote to sell the home.
"We have said from the beginning that we do not think that selling is in the best interest of our residents or our community," nurse's aide Dawn Futrell said. "And we still feel that way. Blair County has lost a real community asset today."
Meling and Tomassetti said they believe the sale is in the best interest of Blair County and Valley View residents. Reliant, as commissioners requested, will pledge to continue operating Valley View as a skilled care nursing facility through December 2023.
That's something the county cannot promise with forthcoming changes in Medicare and Medicaid funding, Tomassetti said.
Meling said from her visit of privately owned nursing facilities owned by the those bidding for Valley View, she saw improvements made to keep the facilities competitive and attractive.
"If we don't take this action now, Valley View's future is very dim because we know we don't have the funds to reinvest in [Valley View], to bring it up to the standards [of other homes]," she said.
Commissioner Ted Beam Jr., who voted against the sale, reminded fellow commissioners that when they attended a residents' council meeting last year at Valley View, the residents told them how satisfied they were.
"They spoke from their hearts," Beam said. "They love that home. They're treated like family, not like patients."
Tomassetti and Meling said in the private facilities they visited, they observed good relationships between the residents and the staff. They also said that they expect Reliant will retain most of the Valley View employees.
But employees fear the new ownership could mean changes to employee pay and benefits, including health insurance and pension, said Diana Miller whose husband, Terry, works as a nurse at Valley View.
"The money [from the sale] is more important to the commissioners than the people," Diana Miller said. "This is one less thing they will have to deal with. They're just passing the buck."
Tomassetti has said that the county will make no profit on the sale of the home because the proceeds will be needed to cover the home's debt, its portion of the county's unfunded pension liability, benefits owed to employees and sale-related expenses.
Upon signing the sales agreement, Blair County will owe Marcus & Millichap, the Chicago real estate firm that marketed Valley View, a 2.5 percent commission fee on the $16.5 million price, which equals $412,500.
The county also hired a Harrisburg-area attorney, Louis Capozzi, who specializes in health care related transactions, to handle the legal work associated with the sale, at $200 an hour.