Convelesant home goes up on the block

Valley Meadows Living Center went to the auction block on Sunday when the contents, owned by Carson Tahoe Hospital, were sold to the highest bidder.

The former Cottonwood Care Center in the Gardnerville Ranchos, Valley Meadows closed in December 1999, shortly after the state Bureau of Licensure and Certification banned the facility from admitting new Medicare patients after a substandard review in July and a follow-up substandard review in October.

The convalescent home had been plagued with problems for years, starting with a failed inspection in May 1997 and capped by the $1 million medical loan default of Premier Care Services, an Arizona-based company that had leased the care facility from Carson-Tahoe Hospital. Valley Meadows was placed in receivership in October 1998.

Although an employee group took over management in April 1999, Valley Meadows never fully recuperated. Negotiations with MultiCare Management of Cleveland, Ohio to take over the management of the operations ended after the last substandard review.

Arundel Auctions of Carson City administered the sale of the contents, which included everything from walk-in freezers and laundry equipment to hospital beds and a hydrotherapy bath.

"We were jammed," said Mary Cerquitella, owner of Arundel Auctions with her husband, Pete. "We estimate that there were over 150 people here from places as far away as Lovelock and Sonoma, Calif."

Cerquitella kept the atmosphere upbeat and positive as he auctioned off laundry racks, with resident's clothing still neatly hanging on them, medicine carts and display cases and bulletin boards decorated for Christmas.

Steve Evenson, legal counsel for Pershing General Hospital and Nursing Home in Lovelock, said that the auction came as a blessing for the small, financially-strapped facility.

"We couldn't afford these things any other way," said Evenson as he loaded a pickup truck and trailer with purchases. "This is a Godsend for us."

Kathryn Pellegrino, a teacher at Pinon Hills Elementary School, previewed the auction on Saturday and hoped to take the piano to her classroom.

"Someone outbid me, but I did get a table and some puzzles," said Pellegrino. "There were other teachers here, also. I'm sure they were looking for bargains just like I was."

Wheelchairs sold for a small fraction of the retail value, and a husband and wife team loaded four of them into the bed of a pickup truck.

"We are donating them to charity," said the husband, who wished to remain anonymous. "We have been fortunate to have our good health. This is an excellent way to help those that aren't as fortunate."

Uchenna Dike, a doctor specializing in internal medicine at Washoe Medical Center said that she was specifically looking for medical supplies for her office.

"Blood pressure cuffs, things like that. This (auction) is wonderful for me," she said.

Although Sunday's auction was upbeat and positive, the atmosphere during Saturday's preview was somber as people wandered the deserted halls and were reminded of the residents who used to live at the facility.

Pictures of residents still hung on the walls outside of their rooms. Dirty linens stuffed into laundry bags, papers scattered over the nurse's workstation - all were reminders that the care center closed quickly.

"It's nostalgic, but kind of sick," said one former employee, who asked not to be identified. "I was glad to get out of here, and now, I'm not sure that I should have come here today."

Dave Pumphrey, a partner of PDQ Limited, which owns the Valley Meadows building, didn't return phone calls regarding the public auction of the building scheduled for later this summer. Phillip Frink with Stewart Title Co. said that the three-month foreclosure period on the building will end on June 8, and the building will be auctioned off sometime after a 25 day waiting period.

Marion Barrett of Gardnerville went to the auction to bid on garden benches and office equipment.

"It's a shame to see this place closed. Older people need the facility. I hope someone picks up the building and reinstates it as a nursing home," said Barrett.

Some items were not sold by the time the gavel ended the sale at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. According to Arundel Auction representatives, offers have come in after the public sale, but they had to be refused.

"It is up to representatives from Carson-Tahoe Hospital to dispose of the remaining contents," said Mary Cerquitella. "All in all, it was a successful auction. Items sold for a fair price - we had fun and our customers had fun. However, our job is done.

"We no longer have authorization to sell anything."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment