Beaver County, PA: Concerned residents, nurses, healthcare workers, and community leaders packed the Beaver County Courthouse steps on Thursday after the Commissioners’ meeting, rallying against a proposed sale of Friendship Ridge Nursing Home.
The home’s workers put together a proposal to cut $5 million from the home’s budget in an effort to address financial concerns and ensure Friendship Ridge remains a county-run home.
“We have many concerns regarding Friendship Ridge being sold to a for-profit corporation,” says Kerri Theuerl, RN. “Our residents are like family to us, and we don’t want to see our facility turned into a facility that puts profits over our residents.”
Yesterday, Commissioner Nichols released a statement that the workers’ proposal falls short of the county’s goal. He claims that $7.5million needs to be cut from the budget. However, that includes $2.5 million in “prudent pay” – an amount that is not a debt and the county receives every year from the state.
In December, commissioners and workers agreed to the goal of $5 million in cuts, and that prudent pay would not be taken into account. Workers’ proposal cuts $5.1 million for 2013, and an additional $1 million for 2014, exceeding the initial goal.
“We have worked very hard on this proposal and will continue working to protect our seniors, because we know a county-owned nursing home is better than a corporation who puts profits over people,” said Denise Cox, who has worked at Friendship Ridge for 17 years. “Commissioner Nichols is set on selling, while we are trying to protect the home to hundreds of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Workers point to Cambria and Lackawanna counties, who sold their county homes in 2010. Conditions inside those facilities changed as the private corporations seemed to focus more on profit, rather than providing quality care. Based on reports from employees at those facilities, these corporations cut supplies and staff, and that means seniors may not be receiving the care they deserve.
Friendship Ridge also provides family-sustaining jobs to nearly 700 people in the community, and in 2011, generated over $57 million in revenue – nearly 75% of that was from state and federal funding. Once the home is sold, the asset is gone forever.
A website, www.ProtectBeaverCountySeniors.org has information and links to a petition that will be presented to Commissioners.