The Lancaster Township nursing home facility long known as Conestoga View, site of the sixth-highest number of COVID-19 deaths among nursing facilities in the state, has a new owner.
A spokesperson for Lakewood, New Jersey-based Imperial Healthcare Group, LLC, confirmed Tuesday the company has bought the nursing home and will keep the facility’s administration in place, but declined to provide any further details.
The purchase price was $29.8 million, according to property records filed last week.
The 446-bed nursing home also appears to have a new name. A person answering the phone at the nursing home facility Tuesday said the site had recently changed its name to Lancaster Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The Conestoga View website was down on Tuesday.
According to property records, the seller, S&P Real Estate Company, is an affiliate of Montgomery County-based Complete HealthCare Resources-Eastern Inc., the company operating the facility since 1993.
Phone messages left at Complete Healthcare Resources-Eastern and Lancaster Nursing and Rehabilitation Center were not returned.
Chaim “Charlie” Steg of Lakewood, New Jersey, is listed as Imperial’s registered agent in business filings in New Jersey. When contacted by phone Tuesday, Steg declined to confirm the purchase of the Lancaster Township nursing home, but requested a reporter leave a message with him.
Steg has become part-owner in at least 11 other Pennsylvania nursing homes, most of them in the Philadelphia area, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Paula Sanders, a spokesperson for Imperial, declined to confirm Steg’s involvement at Imperial.
“I'm not familiar with that, I'm just calling to tell you that Imperial Health Care Group is the licensee,” Sanders said.
Lancaster County built Conestoga View in 1969, continuing a tradition of providing nursing care for its poorest residents that began in 1799.
However, by 2005, county officials had grown weary of spending more than $3 million annually to operate the 900 E. King St. facility and had expressed a desire to shrink the size of county government.
So they sold the facility to Complete HealthCare Resources’ real estate affiliate, S&P Real Estate Co., for $13.3 million in cash and other considerations, according to LNP | LancasterOnline files and county records.
Complete HealthCare was a logical buyer since it had managed the nine-story facility for the previous 12 years.
The 2005 sale, approved unanimously by county commissioners, also drew immediate controversy. Questions about how the deal came together led to a grand jury investigation that produced guilty pleas from the commissioners to violations of the state’s open meetings laws in 2006.
The facility’s reputation has also taken its recent hits.
Since the initial outbreak of COVID-19 last year, 233 Conestoga View residents have contracted the virus, and 81 residents have died from it, according to the latest self-reported data to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
That’s the sixth-most deaths of any nursing home in the state, according to the DOH data.
An LNP|Lancaster Online investigation in June revealed disturbing conditions in Conestoga View in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conestoga View housed three or four residents in each room, allowing the virus to spread easily, the investigation found. The facility also failed to implement testing and provide enough personal protective equipment, a widespread problem at health care sites early in the pandemic.
Nursing Home Compare – which gives nursing home facilities a hotel-style rating – has given the formerly-named Conestoga View an overall rating of one-star. A one star indicates the facility performance is “much below average.”
Created to give greater information to consumers when making a placement decision, the five-star rating system is administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Unlike higher-rated facilities in the area, most Conestoga View residents depend on Medicaid to pay toward their housing.
Nursing home residents have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania as a whole, accounting for roughly 6% of the cases, but half of the deaths. Since the outbreak, 13,186 COVID-related deaths have occurred at Pennsylvania long-term care facilities, according to DOH.
Conestoga View traces its history all the way back to 1799, when The Almshouse opened on East King Street to serve the area’s poor, sick and mentally ill. The Lancaster County Home and Hospital was built at the same site two years later.