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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gracedale & Cedarbrook: Apples & Oranges

Let's shove all the pious proclamations about "moral obligations" aside. Although LC Director of Administration Tom Muller, and Commissioners Dougherty and Hansell threw that term around last night as though they were at a revival meeting, the simple reality is that county government has no obligation to provide a nursing home. And if Cedarbrook were the $6 million money pit like Gracedale is in Northampton County, there is little doubt in my mind that they'd all be just as sanctimoniously talking about their "moral obligation" to the taxpayer.

But if Muller did anything at last night's Lehigh County budget hearing, he established pretty clearly that Gracedale and Cedarbrook are completely different animals. What makes fiscal sense in Northampton County might actually be foolhardy in Lehigh.

Below you'll see a copy of Muller's handout. He reluctantly handed it to me, complaining that I'm the "pseudo press." Then he grumbled that all I ever do is photograph the back of his head, even though even he agrees it's his better side.

Some Commissioners have suggested that perhaps Lehigh should consider selling or leasing Cedarbrook. Muller gave what Commissioner Bill Hansell repeatedly referred to as an "extraordinarily good presentation." Now Hansell thought everyone gave "extraordinarily good presentations" last night, but Muller was so damn good he even convinced the tea party members in the peanut gallery.

First, he compared the two institutions. Gracedale has a two star rating, while Cedarbrook has a four star rating. Gracedale has filled 638 of 725 beds, whle Cedarbrook has filled 668 of 680 beds. Gracedale is county-managed, while Cedarbrook's leadership is private.

Second, Cedarbrook, unlike Gracedale has two facilities in Fountain Hill and South Whitehall. Only South Whitehall is actually licensed. A cording to Muller, "We cannot sell our beds at Fountain Hill. If we wanted to sell the facility, we'd have to work out some deal where we would sell it to somebody contingent upon them applying for a license, getting a license for those beds."

Third, Cedarbrook is actually projected to earn $3.5 million next year. But because of the debt service on multiple nursing home bonds and he $2.4 million cost of health insurance for retirees, the County will have to kick in $2.1 million.

Fourth, if Lehigh were to lease Cedarbrook, it would still lose $932,000 per year. That's because the cost of retiree health insurance would actually increase.

Fifth, if Lehigh were to sell Cedarbrook, it would have to pay off all the bonds and other loans. The retiree health insurance cost would increase, just like with a lease. Assuming a sale for $26.6 million, the County would walk away with just $317,973.

Muller indicated that "we intend to maintain our four star rating. We have no intention of going below that. The best Gracedale has ever hit was 3.68, briefly, ... . There's a lot of money in those little tenths of a point." Muller also stated hat Cedarbrook is getting away from housing four residents in one room to make the home more attractive to aging baby boomers.

Earlier that evening, Cedarbrook administrators indicated that labor accounts for 66% of Cedarbrook's total cost. $10 million of the $65 million budget goes to pay for the defined benefit pension. They are hopeful that baby boomers will fill the nursing homes in the years to come, although they acknowledge another trend is assisted living and care at home.



Anonymous said...

Tom made an excellent presentation. Stop promoting Angles questionable motives by attacking the sane comments of others.

Anonymous said...

I love it.

To save money, they won't sell since it only breaks even in a sale, but it's better to keep it when it keeps loosing millions per year.

Elected officials are so silly.

Anonymous said...

Privatized nursing homes have every incentives to keep patients. Empty beds are considered loss revenue. Be very careful when you send a family member to a privatized nursing home for physical therapy.

Chris Casey said...

whether you agree with the political sell or don't sell points, there's a lot of good research here to consider.

Anonymous said...

Why are they spending the time to compare Lehigh's facility to Northampton's facility?

Why not compare to Berks, Schuylkill, etc?

Just don't see the point in the analysis, other than to say "well...we are better than those guys..."

Anonymous said...

Yes. Lehigh county is better. Better at double digit tax increases.

Anonymous said...

BO did anyone bother to look into weatheror not gracedale was deeded to the county by the moravians,and if the county wished to sell gracedale it would revert back to the moravians.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There is no reverter. Just another piece of misinformation from McHale and her navy.

Anonymous said...

Notice it was floated by a council member with an (R) behind his name
That must stand for retarded. It must be contagious we have the same epidemic in NORCO. I think Angle is a carrier. And it would not suprise me if there has been contact between these two.
Yeah Yeah Bernie

Anonymous said...

"And it would not suprise me if there has been contact between these two.'

As per O'Hare and his blog that is not the only questionable contact Angle has had with someone.

Anonymous said...

What a novel idea.

Anonymous said...

Angle and Stoffa decided to sell Gracedale three years ago. Stoffa has run it into the ground to make the case.

He just gave the nurses a nice contract with a successor clause after he claimed you can't do that. Stoffa is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He knows that will put union against union and make County Council question keeping Gracedale even more than they are now. he is a con artist of the worst kind. he and Angle deserve each other.

He and Angle represent the worst in public officials. They are disgusting.

Anonymous said...

I think the successorship clause was in the old contract, I don't know when that was signed however it might predate Stoffa. He has other problems though I just thought I'd try to clarify.

Anonymous said...

This is a new contract they negotiated. If he though the clause was no good he could have just refused to agree.

He didn't, he gave it to them. It means he says one thing to the Nurses and another to AFSCME.

He is not a good man, he is deceptive.

Bernie O'Hare said...

And you are an anonymous coward who attacks people without having the guts to identify yourself.

Anonymous said...

The Not Ready for Local Politics Players present:

The Lone Deranger

Starring Bernie Ohare as trusted friend Tonto

And Ron Angle as The Lone Deranger

Act One


Yes Kemosabe

I hear war drums coming from yonder Lehigh County

But Kemosabe the Lenape are peaceful

No No its the County Council they say they want to sell Cedarbrook


Yes Kemosabe

Put your ear to the ground see if the citizens are stirring


Yes Tonto

Buffalo come

How do you know Tonto

Ear sticky Kemosabe

Act Two


Yes Tonto

If they sell Cedarbrook where will I spend my golden years? Gracedale has already been changed to the Abe Atiehya Slots and Sluts Parlor

You can rent a lovely two story teepee from me in the Slate Belt Tonto

Me no think so Kemosabi

Why not Tonto

You stealum my whiteman free money check when they come


yes Kemosabi

where did you get that idea

me readum story in whiteman newspaper


yes Kemosabi

you can't read my trusted friend

I know thats why me startum second rate internet blog

no one notice how stupid Tonto is



yes Kemosabi

I'm getting to old for this can I move in with you and your sqaw there is no Cedarbrook or Gracedale and my kids keep putting antifreeze in my Arnold Palmers

Sure Kemosabi you like it here my wife makum good food
roasted tastykake

The End

Anonymous said...

O'Hare has become nothing but an old crow for Angle and Stoffa. Any shred of credibility he had has long since disappeared.

The angry disbarred alcohilic shines through no matter how he tries to hide it.

Sad life.

Stan "teaparty watchdog said...

If Tom and some of the Commissioners, were really interested in their obligation to the elderly, they would be trying to reduce the TAX burden on the thousands of elderly tax payers.
These people are just trying to stay in their homes on a "FIXED" income.

Anonymous said...

I wish we had normal representation in NORCO like the Cunninghams' of Lehigh County.

Anonymous said...

Hey BO
My wifes mother is in Gracedale and she told me she heard while she was visiting, that there is some group who plan to file an injunction in an effort to get a referendum on the spring ballot. Have you heard of this and is it legal?