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Holly Place still suffers from money problems

April 12, 2006|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

The financial woes of the Holly Place homes for low-income seniors are continuing, and there's uncertainty whether the facilities will remain open.

With a continued reduction in state Medicaid funding, Senior Living Alternatives Inc., which operates Holly Place and Holly Place North on South Potomac Street in Hagerstown, asked the Washington County Commissioners for help.

The County Commissioners discussed the request Tuesday during a budget workshop.

The nonprofit organization asked the County Commissioners for $128,300 in the coming fiscal year, a $106,050 increase over the amount the county gave the assisted-living homes in the current year's budget. Fiscal year 2007 begins July 1.

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County Administrator Rodney Shoop recommended an increase of $1,120, or 5 percent. The commissioners agreed by consensus with Shoop's recommendation.

"That means we're going to have to go out and raise a lot more money to keep our doors open," Melanie Davis, executive director of the Holly Place homes, said by phone Tuesday.

"If we don't start raising some money, we're going to be in desperate trouble," Davis said.

Senior Living Alternatives would have to raise money within the next three to six months to keep running. The facilities' budget is about $700,000 a year, she said.

The City of Hagerstown has proposed a $5,000 increase for Senior Living Alternatives for the coming fiscal year, from $50,000 to $55,000.

If the homes close, Davis worried that some residents would have no place to go because they can't afford any place else.

"I don't know what'll happen if we're out of here," Davis said.

The homes have 26 residents but enough room for 30. Davis said no new residents are being accepted until the finances are settled.

Shoop said the state hasn't stepped up with financial support for the coming fiscal year, "and I don't think it's our responsibility."

Shoop believes the Holly Place facilities will shut down.

"They're going out of business ..." Shoop said.

Commissioner John C. Munson wanted to know why the commissioners would give the Holly Place homes the $1,120 increase if it is shutting down.

Commissioners Doris J. Nipps said the homes would have closing costs.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said in a voice mail message Tuesday that he was "cautiously optimistic" about the future of the Holly Place homes.

He said it looks like the facilities will receive $75,000 from the state, which would be the second installment of $150,000 the state agreed to give the homes last year.

The second installment has been on hold because the homes were unable to meet a December deadline to submit a long-term business plan on the future of the facilities, said William M. Breichner, chair of the Senior Living Alternatives board.

The group recently was able to submit a plan, Breichner said. He said Holly Place officials are waiting to hear back from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on the second installment.

"We're working to keep Holly Place open," Breichner said.

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