By Jan. 1, the Portage County Board of Commissioners expects to be out of the nursing home business. That's when the Woodlands at Robinson, Portage County's nursing home, is expected to transfer to its new owners, Saber Healthcare Group LLC.
As part of that process, the facility's 75 employees will be receiving layoff letters by certified mail in the coming days. The county is obligated by state law to give a minimum 17 days notice prior to closing out its ownership of the facility.
The 99-bed facility, located off North Chestnut Street in Ravenna, was sold to Saber in October for $7.6 million. Commissioners had hoped to close the deal earlier this year. Saber was the successful bidder with a bid of $10.1 million in December 2011, but that number was reduced by $2.5 million in October after an appraisal set the nursing home's value at $8.2 million.
"It just kept getting extended" with additional paperwork and requirements to complete the sale, said Commissioner Maureen Frederick.
While it is unfortunate the layoff notice comes at the holidays, Commissioner Tommie Jo Marsilio said Saber has indicated 90 percent or more of the current employees will be retained.
"Employees have known for many months that this is happening," she said. "And it is actually happening to avoid losing their jobs if we couldn't sell the facility. Reimbursements are being cut," she said.
Commissioners made the decision to sell the 11-year-old facility in 2011 after facing shrinking revenues and rising operational costs.
"There was just no way it could continue to be viable for the county" ownership, Frederick said.
Saber is to meet with employees to discuss their employment with Saber after the transfer.
"These people are synonymous with the integrity and the good quality care that was given at the Woodlands," Frederick said. "I would think that Saber is going to value the care, the familiarity employees have with the families out at the Woodlands."
Frederick said the board has asked department heads to give Woodlands employees maximum consideration for any job openings.
"Of course, that depends on qualifications, but there might be some skill sets applicable to other jobs" within the county, she said.
The county board of commissioners has already passed a resolution abolishing nursing home jobs from the county payroll. The county plans to pay employees for accrued vacation and other money due them once Saber takes ownership of the property. The former county employees will be covered by the county health plan through Jan. 6, officials said.
The county opened the new facility off of North Chestnut Street in Ravenna in 2001 at a cost of more than $10.6 million. The county still owes $6.9 million on the bonds.
The 11-year-old facility replaced one on Infirmary Road in Shalersville that was built in 1952.
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