- Rich Klein
EXCLUSIVE: Company Aiming To Purchase Care Center Identified
Updated: Jul 13, 2020
Photo by Rich Klein taken July 11 in Island Park, NY
LIBERTY- With much attention focused on this Tuesday’s 30-minute public hearing followed by a vote by the County Legislature regarding the sale of the Care Center at Sunset Lake, one Long Island company is making a pitch to legislators.
That company is The Grand Rehabilitation & Nursing, according to a source familiar with the County’s discussions behind the scenes on the issue.
Grand Rehabilitation & Nursing - based in Rockville Centre, Long Island and with 22 facilities across the State -. owns and operates multiple facilities in Queens and Long Island but also has facilities in locations that include Buffalo, Rome and Poughkeepsie.
Grand’s CEO is Jeremy Baruch Straus, who is also chairman of the Board at Parksville’s Camp HASC. A sale to Grand could have significant consequences for current and future employees of the Care Center.
In 2016, The Grand had to pay more than $2 million in back wages and liquidated damages stemming from a U.S. Department of Labor investigation into alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The December 2016 news release from the Department of Labor stated:
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that The Grand Healthcare System and its partial owner, Jeremy Strauss, failed to pay employees required overtime and for all hours worked at the company’s facilities in Chittenango, Guilderland, Pawling, Queens and Rome between 2013 and 2016. Specifically, the employer:
Misapplied the FLSA’s executive and administrative exemptions to non-exempt employees and consequently failed to pay them overtime.
Paid employees only for scheduled hours rather than the number of hours they actually worked.
Failed to pay employees when they worked through meal breaks.
Docked employees for short rest breaks.
Failed to include shift differentials in workers’ regular rates of pay when determining overtime rates.
Failed to maintain accurate time and payroll records.
Previous investigations by the division of the company’s Pawling and Rome locations conducted between 2005 and 2013 uncovered similar violations which resulted in the company paying nearly $130,000 in back wages to 146 employees and $20,460 in civil money penalties.
More recently, The Grand’s handling of coronavirus in multiple facilities has been the subject of various local media stories. For example, according to a Spectrum News report, 118 of 216 patients at its Barnwell (Columbia County) facility tested positive. At its Island Park location (Grand at South Point) the company was accused by families of not communicating with sensitivity about patients, according to a Newsday article in May.
The County has not made any public comments about the identities of companies that have expressed interest. The resolution on the table for Tuesday would move the process forward by the creation of the Sunset Lake Development Corporation, consisting of three members, and which would work with a local real estate company supposedly charged with marketing the property.
In a news release issued last Monday, County Manager Joshua Potosek said:
“My office has been working diligently to avoid closing the facility by instead selling it, with the expectation that the new owner will maintain a minimum number of beds and most, if not all, of the existing positions, along with expanding and improving the Care Center in a way that the County is simply not able to do, This is the best and really only option to pursue. Keeping the Care Center open under County ownership would involve a significant tax hike, layoffs and/or cuts in existing services, none of which our community can afford.”
The SullivanTimes last week interviewed three people who opposed taking the Care Center private: Kenneth Walter, Catherine Scott and Louis Setren.
Due to the Sabbath, The SullivanTimes has not yet formally reached out to Strauss, a member of the Orthodox Jewish community, for comment but will do so late Saturday and early Sunday.
(This is a developing story)