STAMFORD, Conn. -- Relieved residents applauded during a press conference Wednesday when they learned they will be able to stay at Smith House as Stamford announced it had reached a lease deal with a private company to operate the nursing home.
"I'm so happy," said June Stefanek, president of the residents' council at the nursing home. "I was so scared that it wouldn't be. You just can't put people out of the nurse homes and try to find a new place — come on. We want to spend the rest of our lives here."
She and others in the nursing home will be able to do that, officials said at the Wednesday afternoon press conference in the Garden Room at Smith House.
Stamford Mayor David Martin had announced Oct. 20 the money-losing, city-owned nursing home would close after losing $5.7 million last year. Instead, the city and New York-based Center Management Group announced Wednesday it had reached a deal for the company to lease and operate Smith House.
Michael Handler, the city's director of administration, said it has been a difficult time for everyone.
"I can only imagine how long it has been for all of you. But for me it feels like it has been three years," Handler said.
Charles-Edouard Gros, CEO of Center Management Group, said the company is excited to be part of a new beginning for Smith House.
"We felt that a home with such a wonderful reputation deserves a chance to continue and not only continue but to be improved, to be rejuvenated so that the residents don't have to move out of their house," Gros said.
Employees will remain at the facility after the changeover, Gros said.
Blossom Palmer, Smith House's director of nursing, said the announcement was good news for everyone at the Stamford facility.
"I am glad they saved the building. I am glad the residents still have a home," Palmer said. "We will just have to work with the changes and see what happens."
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