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Hospital center could be home for seniors

December 26, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - Could a state hospital center in Hagerstown with empty space take in residents from a financially struggling senior citizen group home?

It's possible, according to people connected to both facilities, who discussed the idea on Christmas Eve.

The problem is broader than just Western Maryland Hospital Center, which will soon have a vacant floor, and Holly Place, which is financially strapped, said N. Linn Hendershot, who organized Sunday's informal meeting.

Hospice of Washington County will move from the hospital center's third floor to a new home on Northern Avenue around the middle of January, said Hendershot, the hospital center's communications director.

The third floor might be a good fit for residents of Holly Place on South Potomac Street in Hagerstown, Hendershot said.

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Senior Living Alternatives Inc., a nonprofit organization, had to close North Holly Place, also on South Potomac Street, this year so it could keep Holly Place open.

The two group homes combined had 30 senior citizens with low incomes.

Senior Living Alternatives nearly shut down both homes, but extra government funding and private donations kept Holly Place going.

Hendershot brainstormed on Sunday at the hospital center with William M. Breichner and Douglas S. Wright Jr. of the Senior Living Alternatives board of directors and state Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

The Holly Place problem is part of a bigger one, those at the meeting agreed: assisted living services for many low-income Washington County residents who might need it.

Hendershot said the Potomac Center, a Hagerstown facility for adults with disabilities, and Clearview Nursing Home on Downsville Pike, which was forced to close a year ago because of alleged safety and health violations, might be considered for assisted living space.

Wright said Senior Living Alternatives' main problem was having 30 residents at the two group homes, but only 11 covered by Medicaid.

Eleven of the 15 people now living at Holly Place are covered, he said.

Breichner said Senior Living Alternatives probably has enough money to operate for six more months, unless more funding comes in.

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