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C-TH looks to sell Valley Meadows because of financial losses

by Sharon Carter

The nursing home wars have begun, Tom Metcalf said.

The Carson-Tahoe Hospital trustee’s wry observation came as he and other officials sketched out the publicly-owned hospital system’s partial, strategic retreat from the Carson Valley at a joint meeting of the hospital board and its Building and Finance committees Thursday.

Reducing the system’s financial losses in the Carson Valley, about $60,000 per month for Valley Meadows, is at the heart of the Carson City hospital’s plans to sell, or perhaps even walk away from, its interest in Valley Meadows Rehabilitation and Sub-Acute Care Center (formerly the Cottonwood Care Center) in the Gardnerville Ranchos.

If the nursing home operation sells, hospital officials hope to close the deal by May 5 with an eye to being completely out of the nursing home business as soon as a new operator is licensed by the state.

And if a sale does not occur, the hospital is prepared to close down the operation.

“If nothing happens,” C-TH administrator Steve Smith said, “we’ll be ready to start moving patients by April 15.”

Valley Meadows had an average occupancy rate of 107 patients in February. On March 10, it had 90 patients.

A tentative time line for the closure of the facility, the worst-case scenario, suggests the hospital would assist in transferring, discharging or relocating nursing home residents and employees from April 14 through May 31. The last patient would be discharged on or before May 31, the document states. Then, all hospital-owned equipment would be removed or liquidated and the facility would be cleaned up by June 30.

“Creekmore (a new nursing home in northwest Carson City) has 120 new beds and a whole bunch of new employees that used to work for us,” Metcalf said, in response to Trustee Paul Saucedo’s comment that he was mainly concerned about the facility’s patients and employees.

The preferred alternative – to sell the operation – is still a possibility.

On Feb. 12 at the direction of the hospital, Lutheran Health Systems of Fargo, N.D., sent out a request for proposals (RFPs) from companies that had shown an interest in purchasing the nursing home operation, which is in receivership.

The deadline for proposals was set at March 19. But before the end of February, one company, Geracare, Inc., had made a tentative offer to take over the facility and “donate” $20,000 to a charity of the hospital’s choice. Geracare’s offer was contingent upon the board’s accepting it by March 15.

Because the offer conflicted with the RFP deadline, trustees voted at their Feb. 25 meeting to ask Geracare to participate in the process.

As of Thursday, C-TH administrator Steve Smith said, Geracare is the only nursing home operator which has shown a serious interest.

At the meeting, the hospital board directed its attorney, Mike Pavlakis, and Smith to work with Geracare to bring a contract to the board for approval.

Pavlakis cautioned trustees that no binding contract existed between Geracare and PDQ Investments, which owns the 39,000-square-foot nursing home building and the 4.8 acres it sits on. Any deal the hospital makes with Geracare is contingent upon Geracare gaining control of the property.

“We need assistance from PDQ and Dave Pumphrey (PDQ managing partner and a former Douglas County commissioner),” Smith said. “He doesn’t want to see the facility closed… He (Pumphrey) has to come forward with a proposal or we (have to) start moving patients.”