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A co-owner of Senior Associates, the only company to bid on buying Mount View Health Facility, said last week the company is interested in keeping the Niagara County-owned nursing home open. County officials had wondered about that, since the bid didn't specifically say so.

"Our proposal didn't say we weren't going to operate the nursing home," said Jeffrey D. Lapides, co-owner of Senior Associates. "We're a service provider in Niagara County as well as other counties. . . . We serve a population who needs specialty care, and we're sensitive to their needs."

But County Manager Gregory D. Lewis said the company also might want to construct a new nursing home on the property now occupied by the five-story facility on Upper Mountain Road.

On Nov. 19, Lapides and his partner, Marc I. Korn, met with Lewis, Mount View Administrator Patricia Weeks O'Connor, Assistant County Attorney J. Michael Fitzgerald and Christopher Greene, a Buffalo attorney the county has retained for advice on the Mount View sale.

Lewis said the meeting was called to clarify Senior Associates' interest in Mount View, since the $2 million bid it submitted last month didn't specify that it planned to operate the facility.

In its request for proposals, the county had specified that it would favor companies who wanted to continue operating the facility for the same patients and with as many of the current staff as possible.

"They did say in a general way that they wanted to take over the nursing home," Lewis said. He added that Senior Associates also might have an interest in "possibly building a new nursing home on the same property."

Senior Associates, based in Amherst, owns Batavia Nursing Home and Fairchild Manor Nursing Home in Lewiston.

Lapides said he and Korn aren't deterred that the overwhelming majority of Mount View's patients are on Medicaid. "It's the case in every skilled nursing facility," he said.

The Medicaid preponderance has hurt Mount View financially, since its reimbursements are stuck at the 1989 level because it hasn't undertaken a major construction project that would "rebase" the reimbursement rate. A new owner would be able to obtain a new rate.

Lapides said he doesn't blame Mount View workers, residents or relatives for being concerned about the issue. "We don't diminish the importance of this at all," he said.

"Just looking at what they presented, they seemed to address the questions we had," Lewis said.

He said he asked for some more details in writing, and Lapides said he will provide them as soon as this week. Lewis said no more face-to-face meetings will be held with Senior Associates before he makes a recommendation Dec. 14 to the County Legislature's Community Services Committee.

Lewis said he was weighing two options: negotiate further with Senior Associates or seek new offers.

"I was disappointed when we had only one submittal," he said. "When you only have one, you've got to be vigorous in your review of what they said."

He said the $2 million price would be negotiable.


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