Newberry Looks to Sell County Nursing Home

October 4, 2010

Investigative Reports

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The NerveNewberry County appears poised to sell off one of South Carolina’s few remaining county-owned nursing homes.

County Council voted last month to pass the second of three readings to sell Springfield Place & Jessie Frank Hawkins, the county’s only licensed continuing care facility, to Madison Healthcare Management for a price believed to be a little more than $11 million.

Council will hold a public hearing on the sale Wednesday and have final reading on Oct. 20.

During the Sept. 15 meeting, former County Councilman Henry Summer said the facility had made $1.9 million since 2003, but County Council Chairman Buddy Livingston responded that was only a profit of around $200,000 a year, according to a report in the Newberry Observer.

Summer said the facility should also be worth $10 million more than the price Madison is believed to be negotiating to purchase the property for, the paper added.

The lone “no” vote among County Council came from Les Hipp, who said he would not support the sale if the patients and staff were not protected.

Newberry is one of the few counties in South Carolina to own a nursing home. Of the nearly 200 residential care facilities in the state, just four others are owned by counties.

In July, Barnwell County sold its facility, the Barnwell County Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center, to UHS-Pruitt Corp. of Norcross, Ga., for $3.4 million.

As a result, Barnwell County is no longer involved in the daily management of the home and not contributing tax money dollars to keep the facility afloat. However, the center does have an advisory board that includes two County Council members.

As part of the deal, Madison Healthcare subsidiary Prestige, which would operate Springfield Place & Jessie Frank Hawkins, would get economic development incentives that would allow the new company to forego paying taxes on the facility for the first three years, according to the Observer.

The company would then pay $157,000 in taxes the next six years and full property tax thereafter, the paper added.

County Administrator Wayne Adams has said a potential buyer must have a responsible nursing home management record and ownership, and be willing to pay a price sufficient to cover the $10 million-plus debt associated with the facilities.

County leaders recognize the two facilities are in need of significant repairs and improvements and officials have stated that they do not have financing necessary to renovate the facility.

Prestige CEO Bob Norcross told the group that he didn’t believe the county would be able to sell the facility if they keep it for two to three more years, according to the Observer.

He added his company would increase the staff at the continuum of care facility and would do upgrades.

Reach Dietrich at (803) 779-5022, ext. 110, or kevin@thenerve.org.