Friday, March 14, 2003

Nursing home has potential purchaser

Conner's business was closed in Dec.

The Associated Press

CLINTON, Ky. - A Missouri company plans to buy a bankrupt nursing home in western Kentucky for $1.8 million.

Arbor Health Properties of Sikeston, Mo., has filed a notice of intent with the state of Kentucky to buy closed Birchtree Healthcare nursing home, the facility caught up in the sex-for-favors allegations brought against Gov. Paul Patton by Tina Conner.

Arbor President and Chief Executive Officer John Sells filed the notice with John Gray, director of the cabinet's Certificate of Need Program. Sells said he expected to acquire Birchtree pending licensure approval from the state and purchase approval in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Arbor proposed a six-month lease with intent to buy Birchtree.

Sells said he hoped to know by today whether bankruptcy trustee Harry Mathison of Henderson will submit the agreement for approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Fulton. Assuming Fulton hears the matter within 30 days, the deal could be closed around May 1, he said.

"It's our intent to file a motion with the court to approve the transaction as soon as the terms of the agreement are reduced to writing," said Alan Stout, attorney for Birchtree's largest creditor, Community Bank of Clinton.

Fulton has given the bank until April 24 to find a buyer for Birchtree before foreclosing on a $2.7 million mortgage with owners Tina and Seth Conner.

The 116-bed facility closed in December after a string of health and safety violations caused its Medicare-Medicaid reimbursement certificate to be pulled. The nursing home has been in the spotlight for months after Tina Conner said she had an affair with Patton

Sells said the company will "ramp up" staffing and residents with plans to be at 80 to 85 percent occupancy within 18 months. He said he hopes to rehire as many of the 45 former Birchtree workers as possible.

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