Saratoga Care Center foreclosure sale canceled

Rawlins Daily Times, David Louis Residents at the Saratoga Care Center break bread during lunch in this file photo. The Center was spared the auction block after a defaulted payment was corrected.

Rawlins Daily Times, David Louis
Residents at the Saratoga Care Center break bread during lunch in this file photo. The Center was spared the auction block after a defaulted payment was corrected.

By David Louis

SARATOGA — In a complete reversal of fortune, the Saratoga Care Center has been spared the auction block as a foreclosure sale on ownership of the building scheduled for today on the steps of the Carbon County Courthouse has been canceled.

For now.

Nearly one year to the day after taking over as sole proprietors of Saratoga’s financially embattled nursing home from Deseret Health and Rehabilitation, Montana-based Health Management Services (HMS) President Joe Rude found himself backup against the wall as the facility’s owner, John Robertson, defaulted on payment of the building’s loan.

It is no surprise to anyone aware of the facility’s past that things have moved very quickly.

“In the last week, John Robertson corrected the default on the note, so the foreclosure sale has been canceled. This means we continue to have a lease on the building and we will continue to operate and we will operate as we always have,” Rude said.

“I have a tentatively scheduled meeting with Mr. Robertson on June 23, and we will be reviewing where we are at and putting the ball in motion,” Rude said. “I don’t know where it will end up, I guess we will see, but we are the best thing he’s got going.”

It’s been a long, uncomfortable road for the now Saratoga Care Center.

Following weeks of financial mismanagement by Deseret’s top leadership, vendors not being paid, the cancelation of staff health insurance and paychecks being withheld, Gov. Matt Mead was forced to direct the Wyoming Department of Health to take over control of the beleaguered nursing home in May 2015.

Before the state took control, then-owners of Deseret Health and Rehabilitation — brothers Garett and Skyler Robertson and their father, John Robertson —who was in jail at the time on tax evasion charges — had made the Wyoming Department of Health aware just how dire Deseret Health Group’s financial situation was and their plans to close Wyoming’s two facilities at Saratoga and Rock Springs, along with others in Nebraska, Kansas, Utah and Minnesota.

Following the decision by Mead to step in and operate the Saratoga facility, a buyer was found and Rude secured a lease on May 21, 2015, officially taking control June 1. The Robertsons remained the facility’s landlord.

For now, Rude added, it’s status quo for the residents and staff at the care center.

“Our goal all along was to continue to provide services for the people in the Saratoga area and specifically the residents who are already living at the facility. I guess we can call it a happy ending, for now,” he said.

“We are glad it’s resolved. It gives us the chance to do some long-range planning and sit down to see what makes sense for both us and John Robertson.”

Along with the good news that the foreclosure sale has temporally been averted, Rude learned the status of a recent Medicare/Medicaid survey that analyzed how the facility is delivering care, the condition of the building, policies and procedures, and the qualifications of staff — passing with flying colors.

Rude said that paved the way for the care center to provide physical therapy services on an outpatient basis.

“We passed the survey, so now it’s a matter of time before the paperwork is finished and we will start doing direct billing for Medicare and Medicaid on physical therapy,” Rude said.

“This is a big step and something we’ve been working on for more than one year. It’s sort of ironic with all of the issues crescendoed during the past two-weeks. This is something we are pleased to report and I know something that the community will be happy to have become available to them.”

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