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UM seeks buyer for Chestertown nursing home

The Star Democrat - 11/14/2017

CHESTERTOWN - The University of Maryland Medical System is getting out of the nursing home business, an official with Shore Regional Health told the mayor and council here Monday night.

Ken Kozel, president and CEO of Shore Regional Health, which is a member of UMMS, acknowledged the significance of Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at Chestertown. He said it is an important placement facility for Shore Medical Center at Chestertown patients who no longer need hospital care.

Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is the only nursing home in the $4 billionUniversity of Maryland Medical System, Kozel said.

And as changes are made in the nursing home industry, "we at Shore in the hospital business are not the right party to be managing that facility ? but we have a firm belief that it does provide a valuable resource and support for the community." Kozel said.

The one-story facility at 200 Morgnec Road has 92 licensed beds.

It was founded more than 40 years ago as Magnolia Hall Nursing Home.

As the ownership and name of the hospital here has changed - from Kent & Queen Anne's Hospital to Chester River Hospital Center to the current University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown - so has that of the nursing home.

When Chester River Health System merged with UMMS in June 2008, what was then known as Chester River Manor was renamed UM Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Kozel said Shore Regional Health is in the process of putting out a request for proposals to see if there is a partner that will take over the operation and financial responsibilities.

In the search for what Kozel described as the "right partner," Shore Regional Health has established conditions that must be met before an agreement is signed. The purchaser must agree to keep the facility open and serve the community as a long-term care facility and be committed to expanding the admission criteria so that patients with higher-acuity care needs - beyond the level of care required by those currently at the nursing home - can be accommodated.

Also, the prospective buyer must have the resources to cover needed capital improvements. "The building is aging and needs financial support," Kozel said.

"We believe a partner who runs nursing homes is the best suited to help up," Kozel told the mayor and council.

"Who do you see as a potential buyer? Are there nursing home operations that are looking around?" Mayor Chris Cerino asked.

"Absolutely," Kozel said.

"So that's like a real possibility?" Cerino asked.

Kozel said as part of the RFP,

anyone who is interested is required to sign a non-discloser form to preserve confidentiality. Within weeks of putting out the RFP, there have been more than 19 requests for the non-disclosure form, he said.

That doesn't mean all 19 will submit proposals, but there is interest, Kozel said.

"I'm encouraged," he said, "but we're also going to stick to our guns and make sure that the right new owner is appropriate based on the conditions that we set."

Best case scenario, it's possible that by spring 2018 an agreement will be reached and the transition process can begin, Kozel said.

"So it's uncommon for hospitals to run nursing homes?" Councilman Sam Shoge asked.

"It is, but we see them as important in the continuum of care. It's needed in the community to support hospital patients who need to be discharged into the right care facility," Kozel said.

In questioning by several council members, Kozel said Shore Regional Health would consider an intergenerational facility if it met the very specific requirements spelled out in the RFP.


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