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City struggles with senior housing issue

February 09, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Hagerstown city officials said they have few options available to keep a well-regarded senior assisted living home from shutting down, but they might look for state and federal assistance.

Holly Place and North Holly Place are two South Potomac Street buildings that together house about 30 seniors with serious health problems. The homes provide assistance with residents' daily routines, but are not considered nursing homes, which would be a more expensive alternative for the residents.

The Holly Place homes have run into money troubles, in part, because the number of waivers through the federal Medicaid health-care program have been decreasing steadily.

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City officials on Tuesday said they foresee more money problems.

"There's some pretty serious cuts to (U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department) funds," said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman. Those cuts would decrease another source of city money - the Community Development Block Grant program - that could be used for programs like Holly Place.

Councilman N. Linn Hendershot asked last week that the Holly Place issue be placed on this week's agenda for discussion. He said Tuesday that he has tried to come up with solutions, but there aren't many.

Hendershot said if the city could find some money to help keep Holly Place running for the time being, the city should do so.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said that "solving the problem for two months isn't an effective solution."

Metzner said the city could try sending letters to the city's state and federal representatives asking for help in keeping Holly Place open.

Metzner said an argument that could keep the program running would be to say it is an example of cost-effective health care. He said the alternative local options to Holly Place, nursing homes, "give less service for twice the money."

While the mayor and council favored the idea of sending a letter, any options the council chooses will be delayed until at least Thursday, after a meeting between the Washington County Delegation to the General Assembly and others involved in the matter.

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