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Friday, April 22, 2016

NorCo Council Wants Competitive Bidding For Gracedale Administrator

If there is any single reason why Northampton County nursing home Gracedale has turned around, it's most likely Premiere Healthcare Resources That company was hired in 2011 to take over the administration at what was then a beleaguered nursing home. Five years later, a nursing home that was projected to lose $7.7 million last year still lost money, but it was only $2.1 million. Even more importantly, the facility received an unheard of "zero violation" inspection for two years in a row. But as the fifth and final year of its contract comes to an end, Northampton County Council had to decide on April 21 whether to seek new bids or just continue with a company that has been providing excellent service.

Deputy Administrator Cathy Allen advocated a new contract with Premier for the next two years. "If it isn't broken, don't fix it," was her argument. She noted that if the nursing home is revenue neutral at the end of that time, the County could consider resuming control once again.

Peg Ferraro agreed with her, noting that two years would fly by quickly. "Just give 'em two years, and then rethink it," she argued. Bob Werner stated that keeping Premier on would ensure that Gracedale would remain on track to be revenue neutral.

But six other Council members felt differently.

Council President John Cusick stated that "taxpayers are best served by going out to competitive bid whenever it is necessary."  He agreed that Premier had done an excellent job, but noted that he believes should be putout to bid.

"We're a nation of laws, not people," added Hayden Phillips. "I'm pretty sure we have to send this out."

Mat Benol scoffed at Allen's suggestion "to put Gracedale back in County hands when the County has already proven that it did not take care of Gracedale the first time."

Controller Steve Barron warned Council that this was a "slippery slope" that sounded very much like the Sahl contract, a public relations contract that Executive Brown executed without Council approval during his first year in office.

By a 6-2 vote, Council recommended that any new contract for Gracedale's management be competitively bid. The two No votes came from Ferraro and Werner.

Ken Kraft and Executive John Brown were absent from the meeting.


Anonymous said...

This shows you what happens when the federal government and the state government gives the counties an open check book. Since the counties are held to a different standard they have had to cut costs and are now more accountable (financially) then in the past. Gracedale administrators in the past were from the good ole boy network. Stoffa was from the good ole boy network. Change for the sake of change is bad but in this case change resulted in good business and cost savings. Keep this group of administrators for two more years then go out on bids.

Anonymous said...

Since when. Does the state and Feds give NORCO an open checkbook? You need to take your medds you have not a clue about anything

Anonymous said...

Right decision! Bid it out! See what Lehigh county did with Cedarbrook. Premiere is just smoke and mirrors! There are better and cheaper ones.

Bernie O'Hare said...

5:27, Good ol'boy Stoffa is the person who brought in Premier. Last night, I heard Cathy Allen say that Premier has only saved $ in the last two years bc Brown listened to Premier while Stoffa did not. Of course, no one corrected her bc most of these people were not around and have no idea.

Anonymous said...

The reason no one corrected Ms. Allen is because technically she was right. In 2012 the operating deficit was 5.1 million. 2013 it was 6.5 million. Since Mr. Brown took office in 2014, the losses have been 3.1 million in 2014, and 2.5 million in 2015.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Technically, she is wrong. Stoffa listened to premier and wanted to implement the recommendations made, but only about half of them could be implemented and the changes made took time to take effect. The other changes recommended include reducing the benefits paid to staff. That's not going to happen. Premier has saved as much as it can, and D Freeman was quite clear on that point, even after brown came on board, and predicted that eventually, the nursing home will be costing th County $10 MM per year. It is not going to be revenue neutral. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Allen does not know what the hell she is talking about. She is a clueless, unqualified Brown super-crony who has milked her patronage job for all it is worth. Cannot wait until next year when Brown and his Blundering Herd of minions is cast out by the voters.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, council is upset that their doomsday scenarios they've been touting for the past few years aren't occurring, the sky is not falling, so instead of admitting that they are wrong, their going to do whatever they can to sink Gracedale.

It's pitiful actually. I understand that people have ideologies and I'd rather vote for a person that has principles rather than someone who makes every decision based upon popular opinion. However, Gracedale is an essential service for the elderly residents of Northampton County and I don't think any potential savings of money that the county would get from privatizing outweighs the responsibility and duty to care for this under-served population.

Anonymous said...

How is it possible that we are now left with Allen running the county? John Brown is a disgrace. He is running around the state running for Auditor General and we are stuck with her. He does not even go the Council Meetings.