YAPHANK - Residents of Suffolk's county-owned nursing home are concerned they'll be kicked out if it's sold to a private operator.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone wants to sell the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility to a private operator in an effort to balance the budget. He says the sales contract would prevent the buyer from getting rid of any residents. But opponents of the sale say the contract has a major loophole that would allow the buyer to dump unprofitable patients.

A clause in the contract says the new operator can only transfer patients if they need care that is not available at Foley, but opponents say it would be easy for them to get around that. They say the home could send a patient to a hospital for something as small as a chest cold, then not bring them back.

Critics say the contract won't prevent the new owners from someday shutting down Foley and cashing in on its valuable land.

Bellone says the county will be forced to shut the nursing home down if it's not sold soon.