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Adirondack Health selling Uihlein Mercy Center

June 26, 2014
By CHRIS KNIGHT ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Adirondack Health plans to sell its nursing home here to a New York City-based health care company.

Adirondack Health President and CEO Chandler Ralph announced the news in a Guest Commentary published in the June 24 Adirondack Daily Enterprise. She said her organization will partner with Post Acute Partners, which operates nursing homes, assisted living, independent living and other health-care facilities in New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

"By partnering together on the Uihlein Living Center campus, we will promote an integrated blend of supportive living services to care for the aging population in our region," Ralph wrote.

While Ralph didn't say directly that the nursing home is being sold, Adirondack Health spokesman Joe Ricco said Post Acute Partners would take ownership of the Lake Placid nursing home but not the land it sits on, provided the agreement is approved by the state Department of Health. He wouldn't reveal how much the deal is worth.

"There will be a a transfer of ownership," Riccio said. "They will have the facility. We will retain the property."

Uihlein Living Center, located on Old Military Road, is one of two nursing homes Adirondack Health acquired in January 2007 from the Sisters of Mercy. The other, Mercy Living Center in Tupper Lake, is not involved in this deal and will continue to be run by Adirondack Health. Riccio said that's because Mercy has a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate than Uihlein and has other services and programs in place, including a recent community nursing home designation from the Veterans Administration. Those things "have added value, and that's something we want to keep going," Riccio said.

This is just the latest in a series of strategic restructuring moves Adirondack Health has made over the last three years in response to what hospital officials have called a shifting health care landscape. The organization has gone through two rounds of layoffs, reduced beds at both nursing homes and announced plans to consolidate its Lake Placid facilities on the Uihlein campus and add new facilities there. It has shifted to providing more outpatient services, opening a new wound care and hyperbaric treatment center and a new health clinic in Saranac Lake. Its most controversial change took effect last week, when the emergency room at its Lake Placid hospital shifted from 24 hours a day to 15 hours a day. It's New York's only ER that's not open around the clock, and permission from the Health Department took most of a year to acquire.

The change in ownership of the Lake Placid nursing home comes as Adirondack Health has suffered significant financial losses at both long-term-care facilities, primarily due to lagging Medicaid reimbursement rates. Hospital officials revealed last year that the two nursing homes have lost a combined $11 million over the previous six years.

Ralph announced in 2012 that Adirondack Health planned to cut the number of nursing home beds at Uihlein in half, from 120 to 60. That number was later readjusted to 80 beds. Uihlein currently has 74 residents, according to Marc Walker, Adirondack Health's chief senior services officer. Ralph also said two years ago that the organization was looking to partner with another company to add assisted living and senior housing on the 13-acre Uihlein campus.

Ricco said Post Acute Partners is one of several companies Adirondack Health considered working with.

"What they really found compelling is that partnership and that collaboration they'd be able to get through Adirondack Health," Riccio said, "not just in the long-term care aspect, but as we look at adding new services to that campus, services that are currently lacking in the community: assisted living, independent living, adult day care, any sort of supportive services that are missing between hospital and nursing home. They share the same vision we share for the Uihlein campus."

Post Acute Partners was founded in 2010 by Dr. Jeffrey Rubin and Warren Cole. The company is based in New York City, but its administrative offices are in Williamsville, near Buffalo, according to its website. Last year, the company bought nine nursing homes, six assisted living centers and two independent living centers in the Buffalo area that were formerly owned by ElderWood. That deal was worth a reported $141.5 million.

Walker said Adirondack Health has worked with Post Acute Partners for roughly two years. He said the company is "the most quality-driven organization I know of.

"They're very hands on," he said. "They've met with all my directors. They will be in the building tomorrow and all of next week. Their goal is to meet with each and every employee over the course of the next two months, and open up a conversation about what it is they're looking at and what ultimately may happen. So far, I can honestly tell you that they've been well received."

Walker said the agreement is currently in a three-month "due diligence" period. Once that's complete, a notice of the transfer of ownership would be filed with the Department of Health, likely by Sept. 1. If the transfer is approved, Walker said Uihlein's 115 employees would become employees of Post Acute Partners.

Asked if the new company plans to change staffing levels at the facility, Walker said it "doesn't want to come into a community and make waves" and that Adirondack Health wants to make sure its employees "can bridge the partnership" to the new owners.

Riccio was also asked how much the deal will save Adirondack Health, but he didn't give a specific dollar figure.

"What you have to look at is the partnership and collaboration, and that brings about innovation," he said. "You've got combined resources. That leads to greater investments. That's going to allow for new health care technology. They want to expand services there. That's good for the employees. It's not a contraction; it's something that can bring in a greater-scale thing."



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