Mercer County has sold the 240-bed Geriatric Center nursing home to Ocean Healthcare for $7.5 million. The center will now operate as Hamilton Grove.

The closing completes the nearly three-year effort to find a private buyer. County executive Brian Hughes said the center would be sold because healthcare for the elderly is no longer a function best provided by the government. Patient care and operation of the site will not be disrupted, Hughes said.

Ocean Healthcare, based in Lakewood, operates 11 other long-term care facilities in eight counties. It takes over the half-capacity facility with plans to invest another $7 million into renovations and capital improvements to the building and its grounds, including the parking lot.

Ocean has stated that it plans to hire several new staff members to meet its anticipated growth. According to Hughes, the center has roughly 150 occupants at any one time. Most of the current staff will remain, including 15 registered nurses and 14 certified nursing assistants. The funds from the sale will be transferred into the County’s surplus fund and will be used to offset future property taxes, Hughes said. The sale also eliminates a projected $7 million loss the county anticipated had it held onto the facility.

#b#Hamilton Grove#/b# (formerly Mercer County Geriatric Center), 2300 Hamilton Avenue, Hamilton 08619-3006; 609-588-5815; fax, 609-588-5838. Robert Ecroyd, administrator. www.mercercounty.org

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