With privatization’s end comes a time to reflect, explain

Frederick News Post
07/14/2013
Saying there's nothing more to privatize, Commissioners President Blaine Young called it a day in a optimistically toned July 8 letter to county staff, lauding a streamlined, much-less-costly, much-less-populated county government. The controversial and unfortunate decision to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation and Montevue Assisted Living "will be the last major change this Board will make," he wrote. Since 2009, the county workforce has been reduced by 25 percent -- one in every four staff -- through "layoffs, eliminating vacant positions and consolidating County divisions and departments and privatizing services." "I realize all the changes have been difficult," Young wrote. That doesn't really capture it.

Not our county's finest hour — or five hours

Frederick News Post
Bill Pritchard
07/14/2013
ou might have already picked up on this, but there are some really rude dudes in our county. This was not the first time I’ve witnessed this, but the five-hour public hearing June 25 at Frederick Community College on the county commissioners’ decision to sell Citizens Nursing Home and Montevue Assisted Living was without a doubt one of the worst examples of an out-of-control local crowd I’ve seen in a long time. It started off badly when a man angrily confronted Commissioners President Blaine Young in the lobby and had to be restrained. It continued throughout the meeting with the majority anti-sale crowd forgetting they weren’t at a Frederick Keys’ game, cheering those they agreed with and booing those who had the audacity to speak their mind in favor of the sale. Either FCC or the commissioners knew what was coming -- Kussmaul Theater was generously stocked with cops that night Joining the vocal opposition was Kai Hagen, former commissioner and longtime commissioners’ critic who shouted “liar!” from his seat in response to a statement from Young towards the end of the meeting. This was an unexpected outburst from an otherwise cooler head. They had good reason to be angry, frustrated, furious, and just plain mad as hell.

Not our county’s finest hour — or five hours

Frederick News Post
Bill Pritchard
07/14/2013
ou might have already picked up on this, but there are some really rude dudes in our county. This was not the first time I’ve witnessed this, but the five-hour public hearing June 25 at Frederick Community College on the county commissioners’ decision to sell Citizens Nursing Home and Montevue Assisted Living was without a doubt one of the worst examples of an out-of-control local crowd I’ve seen in a long time. It started off badly when a man angrily confronted Commissioners President Blaine Young in the lobby and had to be restrained. It continued throughout the meeting with the majority anti-sale crowd forgetting they weren’t at a Frederick Keys’ game, cheering those they agreed with and booing those who had the audacity to speak their mind in favor of the sale. Either FCC or the commissioners knew what was coming -- Kussmaul Theater was generously stocked with cops that night Joining the vocal opposition was Kai Hagen, former commissioner and longtime commissioners’ critic who shouted “liar!” from his seat in response to a statement from Young towards the end of the meeting. This was an unexpected outburst from an otherwise cooler head. They had good reason to be angry, frustrated, furious, and just plain mad as hell.

Delegate says state public works board must OK Citizens sale

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/14/2013
Galen Clagett has not added his voice to the mix at boisterous public meetings on the sale of Frederick County's nursing home and assisted living center. The state delegate and Frederick mayoral candidate has not written any strongly worded letters to the editor. He has not participated in any demonstrations. However, he has been working behind the scenes to raise questions about privatizing Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. The Frederick County commissioners late last month voted 4-1 to sell the facilities to a private company, Aurora Health Management, for $30 million.

Frederick County commissioners done with large-scale privatization, Young says

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/09/2013
The era of wholesale privatization in county government is coming to a close, and the surviving three quarters of the county workforce can breathe a sigh of relief, according to Commissioners President Blaine Young. Young sent a letter to Frederick County employees Monday thanking them for their understanding during the roughly two years that commissioners have looked at shrinking and streamlining government. The recent decision to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living puts the county on course to lose 181 more workers, with facility staff expected to become employees of the buyer, Aurora Health Management. However, the sale of Citizens and Montevue represents the last major privatization effort the current Board of County Commissioners aims to undertake, Young wrote in the letter.

Blaine and Co. bad for Frederick County

Frederick News Post
George Wenschhof
07/07/2013
The 4-1 vote recently to sell the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Care facilities and disband their board of trustees, illustrates the latest example of Frederick County government behaving badly. Immediately following the 2010 election, new board of county commissioners’ president Blaine Young (R) proclaimed Frederick County “Open for Business.” Joining Young as newly elected Republicans on the five member board were Kirby Delauter, Billy Shreve and Paul Smith, who I quickly dubbed with the moniker; “Blaine and Co.,” the moniker resulting from their like ideology and the carte blanche votes Delauter, Shreve and Smith gave to Young on anything Young would propose. Fueled by “tea party” fervor, prevalent across the nation, that promoted less government and less spending, Blaine and Co. wasted no time in promoting these ideals, a disturbing pattern of governing that clearly illustrates how following ideology often trumps reasonable representation. The resulting action from Blaine and Co. was felt immediately after their election, when they moved to eliminate $2 million in county funding for Head Start, a proven and effective federal program that helps children in need during the critical early years of development. What has followed over the next 2 1/2 years has been a continued move to follow an irresponsible privatization path in governing.

Calls for local boycotts ill-advised

Frederick News Post
07/05/2013
Some major decisions by the Frederick County Commissioners have been received poorly by many in the community. Obvious examples include constructing a waste-to-energy incinerator and the decision to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. We understand the emotional reaction of those who oppose these moves, and the need they feel to act. A recent letter to the editor from a local business owner, however, discusses a form of action that, like him, we think is inappropriate. Calls have been issued on several locally created Web pages to boycott businesses owned or operated by Commissioners President Blaine Young — as well as businesses that sponsor Young or are customers of companies or services owned by the commissioner.

Citizens/Montevue fate sealed before hearing

Frederick News Post
06/30/2013
To no one’s surprise the Frederick County Commissioners wasted little time in selling Citizen Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living Facility following a five-hour public hearing Tuesday evening. It’s now clear the public hearing was nothing more than a “go-through-the-motions” sham and validated claims by opponents that the meeting was being held because of a legal requirement and not because there was any chance the commissioners were interested, much less willing, to change their minds. A standing-room only crowd of more than 400 people crammed into the Jack B. Kussmaul Theater at Frederick Community College in a last-ditch attempt to stop the commissioners sale of the government-owned nursing home and assisted living center that have served needy local residents for about 140 years. But four of the county commissioners, lead by President Blaine Young, had already made up their minds.

A Bitter Pill to Swallow: Public blasts commissioners over impending sale of Citizens and Montevue

Frederick Gorilla
Emily Holland
06/26/2013
Frederick County Board of Commissioners President Blaine Young and the rest of the board members processed through a crowd that was not only unsettled, but irate. People shouted, noisemakers and cowbells rattled and clanked, and a gentleman with a megaphone spearheaded the cries. Public hearings rarely become this heated, especially in a smaller town environment, but yesterday’s event at Frederick Community College’s Jack B. Kussmaul Auditorium brought a spectrum of deep-seated emotions to the forefront. At issue was the impending sale (privatization) of the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center (CCRC) and Montevue Assisted Living (MAL), both of which are currently subsidized by the county. The vast majority of the crowd had gathered to oppose this motion, rallying with indignant gusto. CCRC and MAL are the latest manifestations of the Rosemont Avenue property’s covenant “for the Benefit of the Poor of Frederick County and no other use, intent, purpose whatsoever forever” (as stated in the 1828 deed). CCRC was constructed in 1975, and MAL followed in 1987. New, state-of-the-art facilities were completed in 2012, but in November of that year, the Board of Commissioners announced they were looking into selling the facility to a private management firm. These plans became less speculative and more concrete with the dawn of 2013, and by June, a purchaser had been identified, Aurora Health Management, LLC

County decides to sell nursing home, assisted living centers

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
06/26/2013
County commissioners voted Tuesday night to sell the government-owned nursing home along with the assisted living center that has served needy local residents for about 140 years. The decision to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living was supported by four commissioners and opposed by Commissioner David Gray. The same four commissioners also voted to abolish the Citizens board of trustees. The decision followed about five hours of public comment from local residents, elder care experts and those who live at Citizens and Montevue. “I ask you not to sell my home, but to give my home a chance to prove itself. To believe in the folks that run Montevue and give them a chance to prove it is a diamond in the rough,” said Lawrence Watson, 95, who was accompanied to the microphone by his two daughters and granddaughter. The vast majority of hearing participants objected to selling the facilities, a fact highlighted by speaker Kermit Liebensperger, who asked privatization supporters to rise. “Don’t be bashful. There must be someone,” he said after several moments of silence.

Delay decision on selling Citizens-Montevue

Frederick News Post
06/25/2013
If they’re wise, Frederick County commissioners will postpone a decision on selling Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living at tonight’s public hearing. We weren’t confident in the county’s due diligence as officials have rushed to unload the centers, even before a financial expert in nursing home care backed what the homes’ trustees have been saying all along — that Citizens and Montevue can become profitable if they collect per-patient revenue at rates comparable to those of other centers. And while we were advocating a delay in the $30 million sale to Aurora Health Management, we became even more skeptical after reading an article printed over the weekend in The Frederick News-Post. The story illustrated that Aurora had had mixed reports about care centers under its ownership.

Estimates in dispute for sale of Citizens, Montevue

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
06/25/2013
Dollars and cents are a central part of the debate over whether to sell the county-owned nursing and assisted living centers. However, those involved in the argument have yet to agree on exactly what those numbers are. Frederick County’s financial analysis predicts that taxpayers would see a net benefit of more than $12.3 million over the next four years if officials privatize Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. Opponents of privatization have challenged this summary, saying the figures are skewed to make a $30 million sale to Aurora Health Management look more attractive. Sale opponents also say the facilities could turn a profit if properly managed, an effort to debunk the notion that the centers are bound to keep losing money if they remain under county ownership. These optimistic projections have been challenged by county staff, who say the numbers are flawed because they are based on only one month of data.

State Commission on Aging opposes sale of Citizens-Montevue

Frederick News Post
Louise Lynch
06/25/2013
On behalf of the Maryland State Commission on Aging, I am writing to voice our concerns regarding the potential sale/privatization of the county-owned Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. We are particularly concerned about the future long-term severe and life-threatening consequences for the low-income elderly of Frederick County who need the care provided by Montevue. Therefore, in view of the severity of the impact on the rapidly growing senior population in Frederick County, the commission is asking the Board of County Commissioners the following questions:

When Ideology Trumps Reasonable Representation, Bad Things Happen….

Frederick Politics
George Wenschhof
06/23/2013
The proposed sale of the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Care facilities, illustrates the latest example of Frederick County government behaving badly. Immediately following the 2010 election, new board of county commissioners’ president Blaine Young (R) proclaimed Frederick County “Open for Business”. Joining Young as newly elected Republicans on the five member board were Kirby Delauter, Billy Shreve and Paul Smith, who I quickly dubbed with the moniker; “Blaine and Company”. The moniker resulting from their like ideology and the carte blanche votes Delauter, Shreve and Smith gave to Young on anything Young would propose. Fueled by the “tea party” fervor, prevalent across the nation, that promoted less government and less spending, Blaine and Company wasted no time in promoting these ideals, a disturbing pattern of governing that clearly illustrates how following ideology often trumps reasonable representation.

Inspections detail deficiencies at Aurora nursing homes

Proposed buyer of Citizens and Montevue has spotty quality record
Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
06/22/2013
The company looking to buy Frederick County's nursing and assisted living centers has a bumpy track record for resident care, with some facilities scoring well in quality checks and others faulted for reported instances of medical error, inattentiveness and verbal abuse. County officials have said resident care was a top consideration as they evaluated potential buyers for Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. The $30 million purchase offer now under consideration was not the highest bid the county received for the two facilities, but Aurora Health Management's proposal rose above the rest when weighing the well-being of residents and facility employees, officials have said. Commissioners President Blaine Young says he believes the facilities will end up in good hands if sold to Aurora. In forming his opinion, Young said he relied heavily on the team of county officials who recommended Aurora as the top bidder. "I don't know a lot about nursing homes," he said. "I put confidence in the evaluation team." The evaluation team joined Citizens' executive administrator and its director of nursing to tour an Aurora facility in Princess Anne and left impressed by the operation. However, online records show the seven facilities now owned by the Millersville-based Aurora have performed unevenly in quality evaluations. All skilled nursing centers that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments must undergo periodic inspections, which are then used to rate the facilities. Citizens currently has above-average ratings for overall quality and health care. But according to the Medicare website, two of Aurora's seven facilities were graded as below average, and another is rated as much below average.

Expert: Billing saps Citizens Care revenue

Former nursing home officer presents analysis to League of Women Voters
Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
06/15/2013
Under-billing for Medicaid payments is preventing Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center from turning a profit, a former nursing home officer said Friday. Melanie Cox's analysis found that if Citizens started collecting per-patient revenue at the rates of comparable centers, the facility would end up with a $2.8 million surplus in the second year. Cox presented her findings at a meeting organized by the League of Women Voters of Frederick County to discuss the potential privatization of Citizens and Montevue Assisted Living, two facilities now owned by the county. A Millersville-based company, Aurora Health Management, has extended a $30 million offer to buy the two centers. Frederick County's commissioners are exploring the sale as a way to eliminate the annual county subsidies required to sustain the centers. However, Cox said that, with some billing changes, the centers could become profitable, as evidenced by the fact that a private company wants to buy them. "I guarantee Aurora is not going into this thinking they will lose money," said Cox, former officer of Meridian Nursing Center.

Young Heavy Handed with City Alderman over Proposed Citizens/Montevue Sale

Frederick Politics
George Wenschhof
06/13/2013
The proposed sale of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living, already beset with legal questions surrounding deed restrictions on a sale, has now entered a new contentious stage. In a strongly worded official letter, dated June 11, 2013, Frederick Board of Commissioners President Blaine Young (R), used strong language when addressing the members of The City of Frederick board of aldermen, who oppose the sale of the Citizens/Montevue complex.

Citizens-Montevue: Questions still to be answered

Frederick News Post
06/09/2013
The renewed aggression with which the Board of County Commissioners is moving ahead on the sale of Frederick County’s publically-owned assisted living home and nursing centers has once again raised the question: What’s the rush? No one from the county has yet satisfactorily answered, we presume because there’s not a satisfactory answer other than to get this done ahead of the 2014 election and tick another to-do item off the tea-party-driven list of government institutions to dismantle.

Thank goodness for David Gray

Frederick News Post
William Bugg
05/28/2013
This is contrary to Mr. Young, who considers only his personal desires and the special interest groups that support his personal desires. Evidence supporting his one-sidedness are recent actions by Mr. Young in total disregard of the negative impact on current Monrovia residents in the huge overbuilding in Monrovia. Another example is his childish treatment of the Citizens Nursing Home and Montevue Assisted Living trustees because they do not support the sale of the homes but he does. Mr. Young wants to abolish the board of trustees. That would be a huge mistake. I hope there is standing room only at the June 25 public hearing at Frederick Community College to let Mr. Young know the error of his ways. We need more politicians like Commissioner Gray. It’s about time!

Praise for Citizens, Montevue

Frederick News Post
Barbara Spencer
05/25/2013
As a nurse for over 20 years, I have been associated with Montevue Assisted Living and Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center for over 10 years. I started in 2002 as a “relief” charge nurse as I was completing my nurse practitioner studies. This was my first experience with assisted living facility or long-term care for the geriatric population. I was impressed with the way staff and residents interacted — there was a real sense of community. In 2005, I encountered Citizens as a nurse practitioner working for a Medicare advantage program. I was the primary care provider for up to 70 residents. Again, I was impressed. Staff of all departments — nursing, housekeeping, dietary, therapy — seemed to treat the residents as they would their own family members. In fact, staff treated each other as family or a good neighbor. I was impressed with the longevity of the staff. I felt the same sense of loyalty and community as I had at Montevue several years earlier. Although not an employee, I was treated as a member of the community.