They made changes to make the facility profitable, including a "vent" unit for people suffering from respiratory problems.
Most important of all, Continuum execs made clear that no indigents would be thrown into the streets or denied admission. It's an "unfounded fear," says Blalack, who told Council that most residents (7/8) are Medicaid, i.e. indigent.
Dauphin's one difference from a traditional nursing home is their emphasis on rehabilitation. "We do not really want to warehouse people, but rehabilitate and let them go back to their lives,", said Blalock. That may or may not work at Gracedale.
In what turned out to be a three-hour meeting, Council members had lots of questions. Ann McHale, when it was her turn, told them she's sure there's problems, and then left.
She's a bitter beerface. She's had a tough time coming to grips with the beating John Stoffa gave her in the Exec race last year, where she even lost in Bethlehem. She's angry about being deposed as Council President in favor of Ron Angle. She's fighting a losing battle over looming changes at Gracedale.
But none of this is an excuse to play on an anti-Middle East sentiment already so prevalent in this country. A Kuwaiti real estate investment firm helped finance Continuum Care's purchase of Dauphin County's nursing home, and McHale snarked about it to Morning Call reporter Jenna Portnoy.
"For a foreign country having holdings, especially with what's going on with Afghanistan and Iraq … , I don't think a governmental entity should be involved in something like this."
Why would McHale oppose direct foreign investment in a U.S. Company? According to Pennsylvania's DCED, "Pennsylvania is the ideal choice for international businesses looking to establish a presence in the United States." Some of the Lehigh Valley's top employers, like B. Braun (German) and Essroc (Italian) are foreign.
I suspect McHale is lobbing every grenade at her disposal in an effort to prevent fellow Council members from learning what exactly has happened in other counties that sold their nursing homes. I've never heard her grumble about Braun, Essroc or other foreign investors.
But this one is from the Middle East. In fact, it's from Kuwait. We fought a war so that country could remain independent, but is its business to be discouraged from investing here? Must we refuse to listen to a presentation by an American company that accepted some dirty Arab money? What the hell does Afghanistan have to do with Kuwait?
What McHale is really doing is playing on the latent and not-so-latent prejudice by many Americans against the Middle East. It's OK to be anti-Semitic so long as the Semite is an Arab.