As the effort to find a suitable buyer for the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center forges ahead, I’ve been asked to remind county residents of the leading role played by the Local Development Corporation, or LDC, during this complex process.
Under the previous administration, the county formed a not-for-profit corporation for the sole purpose of selling Summit Park. Using such an LDC is viewed as a more efficient way to sell a government-run facility. Other counties in New York State have encountered difficulties in closing nursing home sale transactions on their own because potential bidders perceive the many layers of legislative approval as an increased risk.
As such, Rockland County created its LDC for the purpose of lessening the burdens of government and acting in the public interest. With so many diverse opinions here in Rockland County, it would be a real challenge for one county executive and 17 legislators to agree on the terms of any real estate deal, let alone one as intricate as Summit Park.
A measure passed by the Legislature in 2013 authorized a transfer of the assets of the hospital and nursing home to the Rockland County Health Facilities Corporation, which is the legal name of our LDC. Since then, seven unpaid voting directors have spent hundreds of hours interviewing potential purchasers, touring area nursing homes and working with lawyers, all with the ultimate goal of finding the right people to take Summit Park into the future.
Four of the directors were appointed by my predecessor and three by the County Legislature. By all accounts, these seven men and women have worked tirelessly to find the right health care provider for patients, the strongest company for employees and the best deal for county taxpayers.
At the moment the county transferred ownership of the hospital and nursing home to the nonprofit, the County Executive became a mere observer in the effort. A recent briefing by corporation members and attorneys provided timely information about the top suitors, only bolstering my confidence in the LDC and its process to seek a new operator, despite word of litigation seeking to derail any potential sale.
The ultimate purchase of the nursing home remains a critical element in the county’s economic turnaround. The facility continues to lose money, with its future operating deficit expected to grow. With Rockland County facing an unaudited budget gap of about $145 million, my hope is that the LDC achieves its mission in the very near future.