County to consider abolishing Citizens, Montevue trustees board

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
05/24/2013
A proposal to abolish the board of trustees for Frederick County's nursing and assisted living centers is headed to the same public hearing slated for discussion of selling the two facilities. Eliminating the trustees might lessen the risk of legal action against the county if officials decide to privatize Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living, the county attorney said Thursday. Commissioners President Blaine Young said whether he and fellow board members decide the county should keep or sell the centers, he thinks the commissioners should take a more hands-on role in managing them. During Thursday's county meeting, commissioners voted 4-1 to forward the issue to a June 25 hearing. Commissioner David Gray cast the only opposing vote. Sonja Sperlich, chairwoman of the board of trustees, said it comes as no surprise to her that commissioners might do away with her group. "It's shocking, shameful, disgraceful, but not unexpected," she said. The board of trustees has already voted in opposition to selling Citizens and Montevue, she said.

County to entertain $30M offer for Citizens, Montevue

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
05/17/2013
The last bid standing for Frederick County's nursing and assisted living centers belongs to a Millersville-based company that has offered to pay $30 million for the facilities and keep their current employees. County commissioners discussed the proposal from Aurora Health Management in a roughly hourlong closed session Thursday afternoon. Their move to entertain the offer marks the latest step in deciding the future of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living, two facilities whose large budget gaps have caused commissioners to explore selling options.

Citizens-Montevue chairwoman responds

Frederick News Post
Sonja Sperlich
05/10/2013
I must take issue with Commissioner Blaine Young’s comments in the Wednesday, May 1 article, “Trustees: Montevue, Citizens need more time.” Commissioner Young is reported as saying that the Citizens Board of Trustees has “shied away from making tough decisions — such as cutting staff — that could put the facilities on stronger financial footing.” Allow me to set the record straight:

Delay the sale of Citizens & Montevue

Frederick News Post
05/02/2013
Next year, Frederick County’s publicly owned assisted-living homes could post a $1.5 million profit. When we heard that piece of budget information, delivered by four members of the Board of Trustees for Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living during an editorial board on Tuesday, we were swayed. It’s true that the facilities have historically been heavily subsidized by county taxpayers, but that was before the two assisted-living facilities were completely rebuilt and reopened in June 2012. Let’s set aside the legal debate about the meaning of the original deed, for a moment, which may end up tested in court, the four trustees said. And also put out of your mind the moral argument -- the trauma privatization could cause to residents, the job fears of the staff, or that the destitute population of seniors for whom Montevue is the last stop in life will have nowhere else to go. The compelling argument is this: the potential for these recently rebuilt, state-of-the-art facilities is only beginning to be realized. For that reason, we support a delay in the county’s move to sell this facility to a private company.

Delay the sale of Citizens & Montevue

Frederick News Post
05/02/2013
Next year, Frederick County’s publicly owned assisted-living homes could post a $1.5 million profit. When we heard that piece of budget information, delivered by four members of the Board of Trustees for Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living during an editorial board on Tuesday, we were swayed. It’s true that the facilities have historically been heavily subsidized by county taxpayers, but that was before the two assisted-living facilities were completely rebuilt and reopened in June 2012. Let’s set aside the legal debate about the meaning of the original deed, for a moment, which may end up tested in court, the four trustees said. And also put out of your mind the moral argument -- the trauma privatization could cause to residents, the job fears of the staff, or that the destitute population of seniors for whom Montevue is the last stop in life will have nowhere else to go. The compelling argument is this: the potential for these recently rebuilt, state-of-the-art facilities is only beginning to be realized. For that reason, we support a delay in the county’s move to sell this facility to a private company.

Citizens/Montevue: Then and now

Frederick News Post
Charles F. Trunk III
04/30/2013
It is useful to remember that the Brunner family sold the property to the county when the county was looking to build a new and larger almshouse — a county home for the care of all displaced citizens of the time: orphans, widows, the disabled, the mentally ill and yes, the elderly with no place else to go. Mr. and Mrs. Brunner and the members of the Levy Court (today’s commissioners) knew that and wrote that purpose into the deed. From then on, such services have been provided continuously to this day. As other state and local providers for various human service needs were developed over the years, individuals were moved from care at Montevue, but services to the elderly remained. Has the county used the Montevue property for other purposes? Yes, it has, and every one of these functions serves the citizens of Frederick County every day. Never before has a board of commissioners attempted to sell a portion of the property to a private company. And, by the way, sell such prime road frontage for much less than its value. The residents of Frederick County need to know two important facts. The first is that the existence of Montevue as the only assisted living option available for poor senior citizens is tied directly to Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center being owned by Frederick County. There is no private business that can or will keep Montevue open to serve the poor. There is simply no profit to be made there. As soon as the last current resident dies, or is relocated or goes to the hospital, Montevue as we know it will cease to exist, ending a nearly 200-year history of service to the elderly poor of this county.

Democrats object to care-home privatization

Frederick News Post
Myrna Whitworth
04/21/2013
We strongly object to the Board of County Commissioners’ rush to sell the Frederick County-owned Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living facilities. Here are the facts as we see them: In 1828, the Brunner family sold 94 acres to the county with the proviso that it be used for the benefit of the poor of Frederick County, in perpetuity. With that, they laid the foundation that enabled Frederick County to meet the needs of some of its poorest citizens. Generations of BoCCs of all stripes have built on that foundation; Montevue was established and maintained through good times and bad — the great depression, two world wars, budget surpluses and budget shortfalls — the county taxpayers willingly providing a subsidy to operate the facility. In 1975, Citizens, a skilled nursing facility, was added; then in 2009, ground was broken for new facilities.

Postpone planned privatization of Citizens and Montevue

Frederick News Post
Claire Kondig
04/18/2013
The Frederick County League of Women Voters urges the Board of County Commissioners to postpone action on the proposed sale of the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. The league believes that the county commissioners need more time to carefully and fully evaluate other options to improve operations and reduce county funding. Why rush to sell a brand new facility whose board is in the midst of efforts to increase revenues and reduce operating costs? These two facilities represent an important safety net for our community's most vulnerable elderly citizens. Therefore, it is essential to take the time to examine the impact of selling the facilities on the citizens of Frederick County, both now and in the future.

County split of Citizens, Montevue land approved

Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy
04/09/2013
Frederick County could now move forward with a sale of its assisted living and rehabilitation centers after approval Monday night of its request to subdivide the land where it sits. The city of Frederick's Planning Commission voted to approve a request made by the county that allows splitting the 41 acres into two parcels — one with the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living Facility, and the other with the remaining buildings to be used for county office space and storage. “These are very difficult decisions, and we have to act in the boundaries of the law,” said Alderwoman Kelly Russell, a voting member on the planning commission. “Sometimes you don't have the tools you need to make certain decisions.” Despite public outcry, including about a dozen residents speaking out against dividing the land and a packed meeting room, planning commission members said they had no choice but to approve the county's request.

Senior citizens will suffer if county sells assisted-living center

Gazette
Diane Grove
03/28/2013
I am both outraged and saddened to hear that the residents at Montevue are being referred to as “a drain on taxpayers.” As a native of Frederick County, taxpayer, and a current Frederick County employee, I couldn’t disagree more! These seniors are members of our community who, at one point in their lives, were taxpayers themselves. These so-called “drains” have been our friends, neighbors, co-workers, mailmen, nurses, doctors, and caregivers (just to name a few). They are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles. They have spent their lives working hard raising their families and being productive citizens of what I used to consider a warm, caring farming community, a community that took pride in itself for taking care of its own. What has happened to us?

Ramifications of selling Montevue will hit its poorest residents

Frederick News Post
Diane Grove
03/22/2013
I was dismayed to learn that the residents at the Montevue Assisted Living Facility are being referred to as “a drain on taxpayers.” As a Frederick County native, taxpayer and a Frederick County employee, I cannot disagree more. Those seniors are members of our community who at one point in their lives were taxpayers themselves. Those so-called “drains” have been our friends, neighbors, co-workers, mailmen, nurses, doctors and caregivers. They have raised families and been productive citizens of what I once considered a warm, caring farming community. What has happened to us? I refuse to believe our community would allow Montevue to be sold to the private sector. Montevue is part of our heritage. The land was sold to the county with the intent of helping the impoverished and for no other purpose. We should embrace this concept, not shy away from it. It is not true that the needs of the residents of Montevue will be met once sold to the private sector.

Frederick County reviewing three bids to buy senior-care facilities

Some fear sale of properties could hurt older citizens
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
03/19/2013
Frederick County is one step closer to selling its nursing home and assisted-living facility for low-income senior citizens, in a move that still is being opposed by some advocates for older residents. County officials and legal and financial experts are reviewing three of six companies that submitted bids to buy the facilities by the March 12 deadline. The three nationwide firms with offices in Maryland include Aurora Healthcare Management, Millennium Management and NMS Healthcare. “These are the three firms we felt were worth taking to the next level,” County Manager Lori Depies said in a media conference call on Tuesday. The next steps will be visiting each firm, conducting interviews, assessing their patient care, talking to employees and analyzing their finances, Depies said.

Frederick County opens new nursing home and assisted living facility

$30 million opening comes after challenges and set backs
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
06/12/2012
After 10 challenging years for Frederick County’s government-run nursing home, officials cut the ceremonial ribbon Tuesday, opening the new 116,000-square-foot building to praise and accolades. The ribbon cutting not only included the opening of the new Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center, but also the opening of the new county-owned 40,000-square-foot Montevue Assisted Living, both on Rosemont Avenue in Frederick. The homes, located on the same land as existing buildings, serve low-income Frederick County residents. Plans are to move the 135 residents living in the nursing home and the 60 people in assisted living to their new homes July 10. “This is a new chapter and a new day,” said Frederick County Commissioner Blaine R. Young (R). “We are open for business and we want to be the most senior-friendly county in the state.” Young praised the new homes to a packed room of former and current county and state elected officials and board of trustee members.

Honesty, deceit and Chicken Little

Frederick News Post
John Helms
04/08/2012
Commissioner Blaine Young and his allies began their terms talking about the structural deficit. They said things were so bad that they were forced to cut expenses including firing or eliminating staff. Over 175 positions including professional firefighters were ripped from the base of those providing needed services, cutting $8.4 million. They crippled the Head Start program to the tune of $2.3 million. They reduced payments to nonprofit and noncounty agencies by $350,000 and they reduced pay and benefits for employees (including nurses) at the Citizens and Montevue centers to the tune of $625,000 per year. The sky is falling, watch out for the structural deficit! When they thought we weren't looking, they danced with the ones that brung 'em to the dance (good ol' boy language for the Frederick Chamber of Commerce and the Frederick County Builders Association). They dropped the excise tax rate to zero, saving the developers an estimated $925,000 a year. They reduced permitting fees paid by builders by approximately $500,000 per year. In addition they went right to work on a list of over 200 changes given to them by the builders and developers to fix rules and regulations they didn't like or that cost them too much money. Some warned what was happening.