Hanover Terrace nursing home to get new owners

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/22/2019 10:05:58 PM

HANOVER — A new owner is poised to take ownership of Hanover Terrace, a 100-bed nursing home on Lyme Road, at the end of this week.

Bear Mountain Healthcare, based in Thomaston, Conn., is slated to purchase the facility from NSL Holdings, a limited liability company with ties to Great Neck, N.Y., and Massachusetts that has owned the property since May 2016, Hanover Terrace administrator, Martha Ilsley, said on Monday.

Bear Mountain — which through Ilsley declined to comment for this story — is expected to officially take over on Friday, Ilsley said. She did not have information about the purchase price.

“As far as we’re concerned, it should be business as usual,” Ilsley said. “All of our staff are being hired on by the new owners.”

“Business as usual” will include working to maintain the progress the facility has made in improving its quality ratings in recent years, said Ilsley, who took on the administrator role at Hanover Terrace in 2016 after NSL’s purchase. That move marked a return for Ilsley, then known as Martha Chesley, who got her start in the nursing home field as a licensed professional nurse at Hanover Terrace in 1973. She then worked at various facilities around the region, most recently at Genesis Lebanon on Old Etna Road, before taking the leadership position at Hanover Terrace.

NSL officials, who formed Northern Hills Senior Living Centers to manage its nursing home properties, did not return messages seeking comment.

At the time of NSL’s purchase, Hanover Terrace was listed as a “special focus facility” by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That meant that because it had a history of “persistent poor quality care” it was subject to more frequent inspections, higher penalties and potential expulsion from Medicare and Medicaid programs.

But since then, the facility has risen from a one-star to a four-star overall rating and a five-star rating for quality. That includes two years in a row of deficiency-free scores by state and federal inspectors, Ilsley said.

The new owners share Ilsley’s “hope to continue to be deficiency free,” she said.

The Connecticut Secretary of State’s website lists three principals of Bear Mountain Healthcare, Thomas Doyle, John Wynne and Scott Ziskin. The company’s website, bearmountainhc.com, lists five nursing homes in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Those facilities’ CMS ratings range from one star to five.

News of the planned ownership change was greeted with less enthusiasm by Mohamed Basha, CEO of the South Burlington, Vt.-based TLC Nursing Associates, which provides nursing services at facilities across northern New England, including Hanover Terrace.

He said he’s concerned about outstanding bills of about $55,000 that NSL owes his company, which has an office in West Lebanon.

At this point, Basha said he’s seeking “some kind of guarantee that we get paid.”

Basha said the last time Hanover Terrace changed owners, he was unable to collect $250,000 owed by the previous owners. That loss “almost cost us our business,” he said.

The previous owners CH-Hanover and Chestnut Health Care and Rehabilitation, both of which used Florida and Massachusetts addresses, did not return messages seeking comment.

Although TLC has an agreement with NSL that it would pay bills within 15 days, that agreement has not been upheld, and Basha often has threatened to stop services for lack of payment after 60 days, he said.

Basha said NSL officials have told him that the delays in payments are due to delays in reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid.

Ilsley said she has spoken with Jonathan Bleier, one of NSL’s owners, and he assured her that vendors would be paid. She could not speak to the timing of when those payments would be made because bills go through the corporate office in New York, she said.

She previously has said that Hanover Terrace and other health care providers in the state have struggled under relatively low Medicaid reimbursement rates. She said she was unsure what the owners’ motivations might be for selling at this time.

Hanover Terrace also is named as a defendant in an ongoing lawsuit filed by PharMerica against Northern Hills, NSL’s management arm, for nonpayment for pharmaceutical products at 14 nursing homes that are owned or had once been owned by Northern Hills. The other facilities in the suit, which was filed in July in federal court in Boston, are located in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The suit, which seeks to recover a total of $4.1 million, alleges that the company owes PharMerica about $303,000 for pharmaceutical products used by patients at Hanover Terrace.

Northern Hills has not yet responded to the suit in court. Ilsley said she was unaware of the suit and that PharMerica continues to provide pharmacy services to Hanover Terrace.

Since Brookside nursing home in White River Junction closed in late 2017, Hanover Terrace has been one of just two nursing homes within 10 miles of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, which provides medical oversight for the nursing home north of downtown Hanover. The other in the heart of the Valley is the 110-bed Genesis Lebanon.

In addition to the improvements in the quality ratings, Ilsley said NSL also has invested in physical improvements at Hanover Terrace such as new flooring and new lighting. The real estate is now appraised at $5.55 million, according to Hanover property records. An LLC using a Great Neck, N.Y., address used by NSL’s owners purchased the property for $4.1 million in April 2017.

Overall, Ilsley credits the facility’s recent turnaround to having the right team of staff in place, which has helped to make it a facility she and others who work there can “be very proud of,” she said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.

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