Advertisement

Franklin County Commissioners vote to put nursing home up for sale

Public reaction offered during commissioners' meetings and a specially scheduled session Tuesday evening has been largely opposed to the concept

June 20, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Franklin County, Pa., officials are looking to sell the county-owned Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Franklin Farm Lane in Chambersburg, Pa.
By Roxann Miller, Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The Franklin County (Pa.) Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday morning to offer Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for sale after listening to additional public comment on the issue.

The three commissioners are expected to issue request-for-proposals documents to potential buyers of the county-owned nursing home on Franklin Farm Lane. The potential buyers will have four to five weeks to submit proposals for the 186-bed facility.

The commissioners said they are not obligated to sell to the highest bidder, and can visit the buyers’ existing facilities and evaluate their backgrounds.

“The process is going to take several months,” Commissioner Robert Thomas said. “There is going to be a lot of time, effort and due diligence.”

Commissioners Chairman David Keller pledged the potential sale will be a “deliberate, open and transparent process” that can be halted at any time by the commissioners.

Advertisement

A consultant has told the board it can expect to receive $6.5 million to $9.3 million, based on market values of similar skilled nursing centers.

During a public comment portion at Thursday morning’s commissioners meeting, Susie Barrick tearfully told the elected officials about her mother’s experiences both working at Falling Spring and now living there.

“It really upsets me what you’re doing. ... I’m just asking you to think this decision over because it’s my mom’s home,” Barrick said.

Public reaction offered during commissioners’ meetings and a specially scheduled session Tuesday evening has been largely opposed to the concept of selling Falling Spring. Individuals have expressed concerns about the future quality of care, effect on employees and the commitment to Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Thomas, who participated in the meeting by telephone due to health problems, promised that the board won’t consider selling to a private entity that does not share its values.

Government sometimes needs to change to be efficient, Commissioner Robert Ziobrowski said.

“There may be a certain amount of redundancies in what we do operating a nursing home,” he said, referring to other similar places for residents.

Twenty-seven of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties still own and operate nursing homes, according to consultant Jay Wenger of Harrisburg, Pa.,-based Susquehanna Group Advisors.

Several, including neighboring Adams County, sold their nursing homes in recent years, Wenger said.

“The marketplace has evolved to where there are a lot of skilled providers,” he said.

The commissioners’ solicitor answered one of the public’s questions this week about putting the matter on ballots. She said the law prohibits a binding vote to that effect, and court cases have made a nonbinding question disallowed.

Prior to the commissioners’ unanimous vote, Allen Piper from taxpayer group Citizens for Responsible Government encouraged the board to take its time and hold additional hearings.

“I know the longer it goes, the more we are going to learn from each other,” he said.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|