In Cumberland County, the sale was opposed by the Board's sole Democrat, Jean Foschi. The nursing home has been bleeding red ink for several years, but Foschi argued that Cumberland could use monies from the American Rescue Plan Act to keep the home afloat.
Northampton County nursing home Gracedale has avoided red ink as a result of something called the IGT, or intergovernmental transfer. Under this program, county-owned nursing homes pool monies, send it in the state and get a matching federal grant, which then trickles back down to the counties. Gracedale has been receiving a substantial IGT since 2017.
Gracedale is currently rated at two stars (below average) by Medicare, but Administrator Jennifer Stewart-King has told County Council that the ratings have been frozen as a result of the Covid pandemic It has received six infection control inspections over the past three years with no citations.
Staffing is an issue at Gracedale and other nursing homes in Pa. A state proposal that would mandate an increase in the time that staff must spend with residents each day has been condemned by the state's Health Care Association as "out of touch" and "unattainable."
As a member of County Council and as Executive, Lamont McClure has maintained that Northampton County has a "moral obligation" to support Gracedale. Voters overwhelmingly voted to keep the home a few years ago, when it was losing money. But if the IGT goes away and the county is required to recruit more staff, this moral obligation will become an increasing burden on taxpayers. McClure has a moral obligation to them as well, which he often uses as an argument when employees seek higher wages.