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BATAVIA – The first step toward the sale or lease of the Genesee County Nursing Home, battered by annual operating losses, will occur this week after the Legislature designated the facility surplus property.

Requests for proposals will be distributed no later than Thursday on a website and to 30 to 35 potential or interested parties, including private nursing home owners and operators.

The county has provided nursing care since 1827, first in a rambling structure in Bethany. In 1974, it opened a 160-bed skilled nursing home in Batavia, and three years later added an 80-bed domiciliary care unit.

Occupied mostly by Medicaid federal-state patients, reimbursement is about $100 per patient per day short of the actual cost of care. That has resulted in millions of dollars – $4 million last year alone – in operating losses that had to be covered by the county’s general fund.

The request for proposals seek an experienced new owner-operator that will ensure for staff and patients “continued long-term viability for the facility.” No asking price is mentioned.

The Legislature has repeatedly assured staff, patients and their families that the county will not abandon nursing home services. Alternatives are sale, lease or management by an outside party.

Orleans County, with which Genesee shares several health care positions and services, sold a smaller facility this year for $7.8 million.