FREEHOLDER BOARD RECEIVES BROAD RANGE OF QUESTIONS AT THE FIRST OF TWO PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE PROPOSED SALE OF CUMBERLAND MANOR
The first of two public hearings was held on Monday, October 24, 2011 at 7:00pm at the Cumberland County Court House to seek comments on the proposed sale of the Cumberland Manor. The second Public Hearing will be held on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at the Hopewell Township Municipal Building at 6:30pm.
The Freeholder Board heard from a wide range of stakeholders in the Manor. Employees, family members of patients, and other agency providers that in some way benefit from the facility’s existence in our county.
Deputy Director Jim Dunkins said, “If the Cumberland Manor were to be sold, two of the primary concerns expressed were that the current level of care be maintained, and that critical consideration be given to the present employees. These are very real concerns for all of the Freeholders. In fact, this process will allow the county to conduct its due diligence to ensure to the best of its knowledge, that any firm that wishes to bid on this facility can demonstrate a history or provide historical data as to how they operated other facilities that they have owned or previously owned”.
Another key point made by the public was offered by a family member of a resident at the Manor. He said, “Maybe some things are worth paying for. Maybe the public would be willing to pay more than the 2 cent increase” to allow the county to continue to run the facility. I think this idea is at least worth exploring. If enough people are supportive of a dedicated tax for the operation of the Manor, then why not investigate the possibility?
Freeholder Director Bill Whelan commented that “at these public hearings, comments and questions from the public are heard, but are not answered. I would like to try and respond to some of the questions. First, it is important to note that the Cumberland County professional staff is reviewing a draft agreement of sale in which various ideas are being reviewed for possible inclusion and or deletion. The hearings are an integral part of how the Freeholders respond to a recommendation to sell or keep The Manor. It is also important the Freeholders learn from the public input so that if a decision is made to sell The Manor, issues raised by the public can be addressed. The following is a list of issues currently being considered:
For clarification, If the Manor were to be sold, layoffs would occur as result of civil service rules. Do we have a transition plan? Yes, absolutely. If a buyer is selected, they would begin recruiting interested staff at the facility immediately. We may also consider whether we can include certain employee protections in such a transaction.
How long will it be a nursing home? The draft contract that is currently being crafted mandates that the Cumberland Manor remain a nursing home for no less than five years. It has been suggested that consideration also be given to a 15 year requirement.
What will happen to the Medicaid Patients? As a part of the draft contract, the county has requested that it be guaranteed at least 70% of the beds be reserved for Medicaid patients for the first five years. We should also consider whether there be a requirement to reserve a specific number of beds for county residents.
What about the loss of Peer Group Funds. These funds can only be replaced by an increase in the tax levy or by making cuts elsewhere in the 2012 County budget. Due diligence should include a staff review of impacted organizations and a plan to address it.”
Manor Liaison, Freeholder Tom Sheppard added that “This is a difficult issue and as a Freeholder Board, we want to be sure that we have had the opportunity to fully understand the impact that a potential sale of the manor would have on our community.”
The second Public Hearing will take place on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 6:30 PM at the Hopewell Township Municipal Building located at 590 Shiloh Pike.