The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 25, 2012

Commissioners look at selling nursing beds

JEFFERSON — Commissioners have retained the services of a law firm that specializes in the sale of excess nursing home beds as the board looks at ways to raise additional revenues.

The county-owned Ashtabula County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has an excess of beds, that is the number of licensed spots for patients. The law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, LLP, will advise the county on the procedure and handle the sale if commissioners decide to put the beds on the market. Phil Coury, vice president of Generations Health Care, which manages the nursing home for the county, recently brought the opportunity to the attention of commissioners.

“(As a county) we’re over-bedded, so this is an opportunity for us to sell some beds,” said Board of Commissioners President Peggy Carlo. “It’s a good thing.”

Coury said the state has not issued any new certificates of need for nursing home beds in more than 20 years. The only way new beds can be added to an existing or new building is by purchasing them from a county which is “over-bedded” by at least 100 beds. But if the bed licenses are privately held, only buyers in contiguous, over-bedded counties can purchase them. New legislation creates an opportunity for county-owned facilities to sell anywhere in the state, but the deal has to be closed by the end of July.

“A provision in the law opens up the market a little bit,” Coury said.

Ashtabula County has a projected excess of 678 beds, the third highest of any Ohio county. Lake, Geauga and Portage counties have projected shortages ranging from 237 to 405 per county.   

Coury said the county’s nursing home has 150 actual beds in place and a capacity of 177 patients. He said the law firm retained by the county is still trying to determine how many beds the commissioners could sell, but it appears to be around 30. The census at ACNRC runs at around 120 residents.

Commissioners want to explore the sale because it could mean additional revenue for the county. According to the Ohio Department of Health’s report on sales conducted in 2010, the average price was $17,586 per bed. The average price has been as high as $19,270 and as low as $9,026 in the past seven years.

Coury said the county would have to offer the beds in a competitive bidding format rather than do a private sale. He said the fact that the county can offer the beds to non-contiguous counties bodes well for the pricing.

“The value is much higher if you can go anywhere in the state,” Coury said.

Carlo said the county has received inquiries from outside the county from entities interested in purchasing beds. As to why the county has an excess, she says the licenses were issued in a different era, when more people used nursing home care and the money was there to fund it. The trend is to keep the elderly and disabled in their homes as long as possible, which has resulted in excess capacity and licenses for many counties.

The window of opportunity to sell is narrow, July 1 to July 31. Only during that time may the director of the Ohio Department of Health accept the applications for relocation of beds within the state.

Carlo said that, to her knowledge, the county has not sold any of its bed licenses in the past.

 

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