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Lebanon County agrees to Cedar Haven sale deal

Lebanon County has agreed to sell its controversial Cedar Haven Nursing Home for $25.5 million.

The county agreed Thursday to sell the nursing home to a Philadelphia-area health care company it had previously hired to perform an efficiency study on the facility.

Complete HealthCare Resources-Eastern Inc. of Dresher will buy the nursing home for $25.5 million — at least one-quarter more than the county originally anticipated it would receive in a sale. County officials had long pegged the highest estimate at about $20 million, with a more conservative price around $15 million.

The deal is targeted to close Sept. 30. At that time, the county will transfer Cedar Haven to a separate corporation set up by Complete HealthCare Resources, and the company will manage the facility. That is how the company’s 20 other senior-living facilities are operated, according to Cathleen A. Otto, the company’s chief operating officer.

In February, the company released its county-commssioned efficiency study to help commissioners decide whether the county should continue to run the facility — which operated at a multimillion dollar deficit — or whether to sell it. The commissioners had been seriously debating that topic for more than a year, with Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Jo Ellen Litz staunchly and consistently opposed to the idea.

The study identified 53 of the 420 staff positions to eliminate, but Otto said there are no current plans to lay off staff. She said the company must do its “due diligence” in the next three months to examine what needs to be done there.

She did, however, say there is a $2 million renovation planned for the facility that will include new furnishings in patient rooms.

“We were just informed about this,” Otto said of the sale agreement. “There is a lot of work to do.”

Complete HealthCare Resources-Eastern Inc. manages 19 Pennsylvania senior care homes and one in Maryland. That list includes Conestoga View Nursing and Rehabilitation in Lancaster Township. Lancaster County formerly owned that nursing home before it went to Complete HealthCare Resources.

The company was one of 18 initially interested in the facility and one of nine bidders, commissioners said. The county cut that list to five semifinalists, then to three finalists. The commissioners and representatives from Cedar Haven toured facilities owned by all three companies during the first two weeks in June, then came to a decision this week.

The chosen company wasn’t the highest bidder, commissioners said. That distinction went to Comprehensive Healthcare in New York, which bid $27 million. The other finalist, Centers for Specialty Care Group in New York, came in at $25 million, according to the commissioners.

Chairman William Ames said the commissioners left the highest bid on the table because they were committed to accepting the offer that would be best for the future of Cedar Haven.

“We said from the start, we were going to sell it to a responsible company,” he said.

Litz again was the lone objector to the deal, as she has been since the start of the process. She begged the other commissioners not to agree to the sale, but was outvoted. She said about 80 percent of the population of Cedar Haven is women, and that those women trusted the county to care for them.

“It saddens me to know that now, in my 15th year as commissioner, that the faith they put in us may come to an end,” she said. 

Michael Sadowski

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