Cabrini Nursing Home’s fate uncertain amid mystery sale

By Lesley Sussman

Cabrini Nursing Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, one of the oldest nursing and rehab centers providing healthcare for the low-income elderly in the East Village, is in danger of closing down unless its lease is extended.

The nonprofit, 240-bed nursing home, at 542 E. Fifth St., sponsored by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, has provided high-quality, compassionate, skilled nursing care in the neighborhood since 1993.

The property’s current owner is an unnamed family trust, which is in the process of unloading the property.

Although the 24-hour facility will within the next five years be relocated to a still-unspecified site owned by the Archdiocese of New York, C.C.N.R. must, in the meantime, keep its current home or else risk losing its state-issued operating license. The center’s current lease expires in April 2012.

At the full board meeting of Community Board 3 on Mon., Oct. 31, at the B.R.C. Senior Services Center, at 30 Delancey St., it was disclosed that C.B. 3 had written a letter to Cozen O’Connor, the legal firm that represents the still-unknown new buyer of the property, asking the firm “to communicate to your client our urgent request to extend the current lease of C.C.N.R. for five years.”

The letter further said that “this nursing home regularly maintains 97 percent occupancy and is able to sustain a positive cash flow even as other facilities close due to overwhelming financial challenges. The need for nursing home beds locally is already dire, and we cannot sustain a loss of the 240 beds at C.C.N.R., the largest facility in this community.”

City Councilmember Rosie Mendez said after the meeting that she and other elected officials have already met with the facility’s administrators to express their concern.

“We’re trying to get the owners of the property to extend their lease until the archdiocese finds a new location for the center and make it available to transfer everyone,” Mendez said.

Mendez said that she doesn’t yet know exactly either who owns the property or is in the process of buying it, but has been in contact with attorney Kenneth Fisher, who is representing the mystery buyer.

“Speaker Quinn and all the elected officials have signed on to a letter that we sent to him,” she said.

Assemblymember Speaker Sheldon Silver said all efforts should be made to extend the current nursing facility’s lease and also to ensure that a replacement reopens in the neighborhood.

“Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation has served residents of my

Lower East Side district for almost two decades,” Silver said in a statement. “It has allowed aging residents who need nursing care to stay in our community, maintaining the close ties to family and friends that are so vital. I strongly urge the building owner to work with Cabrini, me and other elected and community leaders to extend Cabrini’s lease while they find a new home on the Lower East Side.”

Fisher declined to comment.

However, Pat Krasnausky, C.E.O. of Cabrini Elder Care, said, “The family trust that owns the property is selling it. They’re in their 60s and don’t want to do this anymore. We can’t afford to buy it. What we’re asking is that the new buyer extend our lease.”

Cabrini Elder Care has locations in both New York City and Westchester.