BRIDGETON — The Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders voted Tuesday to let a private company purchase the money-losing Cumberland Manor nursing home.
The freeholders voted 6-0, with one abstention, to accept a $14 million proposal from LTC Management of Old Bridge, Middlesex County, which earlier in the day outbid another company for the right take control of the nursing home.
The proposal approved by the freeholders requires the Middlesex County-based firm to retain all the Cumberland Manor employees. The county has already sent layoff notices to more than 200 employees who work at the Nursing Home, which is located on Sunnyslope Drive in Hopewell Township.
Cumberland County officials said selling the nursing home would relieve the county of an enterprise that is losing between $1.1 and $2.4 million annually. Losing that financial drain would help the county close a budget gap that could reach $10 million this year, they said.
“We have been working on this for over a year,” Cumberland County Freeholder Director Carl Kirstein said. “It was important for the board to take this action after 15 years of losses that are estimated to be close to $25 million.
“This is a step forward in relieving that heavy tax burden on the residents of the county. I am also pleased that we were able to take the future of the employees into consideration as this decision was authorized.”
Cumberland County Freeholder William Whelan said the decision was “incredibly emotional.”
“I thought about the patients and their families, as well as the employees and how the sale of (Cumberland Manor) would impact their households,” he said. “I am pleased that we were at least able to provide some protection for the folks working there.”
Neil Kerman, a partner with LTC, said his company operates four nursing homes in New Jersey, including Lincoln Special Care Center in Vineland and two in Salem County.
Kerman said his company specializes in turning around problem facilities. He said LTC retains as many employees as possible when taking over a nursing home facility.
“We’re not known as a company that comes in and fires everyone,” he said.
LTC and Millhouse Daycare Operators of Brick Township, Ocean County, were the only companies to bid Tuesday on two ownership options set by Cumberland County.
One option carried a minimum $10 million opening bid. This option required the successful bidder to keep all Cumberland Manor employees and honor their union contracts.
The second option carried a minimum $13 million bid. This option required the successful bidder to only give Cumberland Manor employees a job interview.
LTC and Millhouse provided the base bids for each option. The bid procedure then became an auction, with both companies continually submitting higher bids in $100,000 increments until Millhouse couldn’t match the LTC offers. LTC’s final offers were $14 million for the first option, and $14.1 million for the second option.
Kerman said his company submitted bids for both options because of uncertainty about how the county would proceed with the bid award. He said submitting bids for both options was something of a safeguard.
Cumberland Manor has 196 beds. Cumberland County Administrator Ken Mecouch said the facility isn’t operating at full capacity.
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