Tupper Lake’s Mercy Living Center sold

Adirondack Health’s Mercy Living Center in Tupper Lake. (News file photo)

TUPPER LAKE — Adirondack Health has officially sold its Mercy Living Center nursing home to two men who operate a number of long-term care facilities across New York state.

Menajem “Mark” Salamon is the building’s new owner, but Adirondack Health is continuing to operate the facility as they wait on the state Department of Health to approve a certificate of need document to reflect the updated change in ownership.

Until then, Salamon will be serving as an operational consultant at the nursing home, according to a news release. If the certificate of need is approved, the facility will be renamed “Tupper Lake Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation,” according to the certificate of need application submitted to the state DOH in late May.

The operating company for this facility is named “Tupper Lake Center LLC.” Salamon holds a 67% portion of the LLC while someone named Jonathan Gerwitz holds a 33% portion, according to the certificate of need.

In March, Adirondack Health signed an agreement with Salamon and Gerwitz for them to take over operations at Mercy, and a company named Tupper Lake Propco LLC bought the physical building.

It was not immediately clear what this sale will mean for Mercy’s residents and staff. Adirondack Health spokesperson Matt Scollin was not available to answer questions Monday, Aug. 7 and deferred comment to a later date.

Adirondack Health President and CEO Aaron Kramer said his organization’s goal has been to “keep long-term care in the community of Tupper Lake.”

“Mark and his team know this service inside and out and seem well positioned to achieve the economies of scale necessary to improve Mercy’s overall sustainability,” Kramer said in a statement.

Adirondack Health announced its intentions to sell its 60-bed nursing home in Tupper Lake in October 2022, following a year of multi-million dollar financial losses for the facility.

At the time, Kramer said they wanted to find an entity that could “make the numbers work” at the nursing home, and that they were confident Adirondack Health was not such an entity. Scollin had said that the business model was “unsustainable,” especially due to staffing shortages and cost increases during the coronavirus pandemic.

There was a “trend” of increasing financial losses at the facility in the past few years — a loss of $1.5 million in 2019, $2.3 million in 2020 and $3.4 million in 2021. In 2022, the facility was projected to lose $4.4 million.

Adirondack Health submitted a closure plan to the state last year, citing inflation, pandemic-related staffing issues and fewer visits.

Adirondack Health — one of the largest private employers in the Tri-Lakes region, supporting hundreds of jobs — suffered a financial shortfall of more than $14 million last year alone, according to the network’s finalized financial statements.

The sale of Mercy is the latest in the health organizations’ major efforts to downsize and restructure amid these financial losses.

Adirondack Health acquired Mercy Living Center from the Sisters of Mercy in January 2007.

Adirondack Health closes ER, dental facility

The news of Mercy Living Center’s sale, which the hospital confirmed following inquiries from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, comes one week after Adirondack Health announced the official closure date for its part-time emergency room at the Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center — Aug. 20 — as well as the permanent closure of its Lake Placid dental facility.

Adirondack Health announced its intention to close the Lake Placid emergency room this past October in an open letter to the community. The health network cited “persistently low patient volumes and acuities, increased expenses, and staffing challenges” as reasons for wanting to close it. But Adirondack Health couldn’t close its ER without receiving authorization from the state health department.

Adirondack Health submitted a closure plan for both the ER and its Lake Placid dental facility to the state Department of Health on Oct. 6. In June, it also filed a certificate of need with the health department to support its closure plan. This final filing on June 15 came one week before a new law went into effect that would’ve mandated a community impact study, according to the Albany Times-Union newspaper.

The DOH has rejected repeated Freedom of Information Law requests from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise over the past few months seeking the health network’s emergency room closure plan. The health department has said that it does not release such documents before a decision on whether approve or deny the plan has been made. Asked for the closure plan on July 31, the department directed the Enterprise to submit another FOIL request. The hospital deferred requests for the documents to the DOH.

Low patient volumes at the Lake Placid emergency room translated to a $2.2 million loss for Adirondack Health, according to the open letter. The dental practice typically added $350,000 to health network deficits each year, Adirondack Health spokesman Matt Scollin told the Enterprise in June.

The dental facility in Lake Placid’s Outpost Plaza closed temporarily in June due to staffing issues but never reopened.

The health network received authorization from the DOH to close the ER and dentists office on July 28, but the final step in the process — DOH approval of the network’s certificate of need — had not yet been finalized as of Monday, Aug. 7.

The remainder of the Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center continues to operate — including the physical therapy and rehabilitation, medical fitness, primary care, laboratory, medical imaging, and the Lake Placid Sports Medicine orthopedic surgical practice.

Adirondack Health said the emergency room closure on Aug. 20 “will not result in the elimination of any jobs at Adirondack Health.”

“Full-time, part-time, and per diem employees will have the opportunity to work at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, or in outpatient departments across the health system,” a news release from the hospital reads.

The next-closest emergency room to Lake Placid is at Adirondack Health’s Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, roughly 10 miles away. The dental facility — which was the only local dental provider that served patients with Medicaid — had around 2,000 active patients. Many of those patients have either been referred to Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, more than an hour away, or have been told to contact their insurance companies to see if there are other local dental facilities that will take their insurance.

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