More on the state of affairs at the Pocopson Home

I had an interesting visit last week from Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello.

Out of the blue I received a phone call from someone who I believe was his administrative assistant or someone else who works for him. The word was that Ryan – or rather Commissioner Costello – wanted to discuss my blog post in which I took the position that the operation of the Pocopson Home should not be changed, that is, take it out of the hands of the county and into private hands.

Now Commissioner Costello was cordial enough but I couldn’t help thinking that he was visiting to give me the hard sell on why the county needs to get out of the business of operating a home for the elderly. I have been at this newspaper since 2005 and this visit from him was a first.

I listened to the reasons he gave for wanting to present his side of the story: declining funding from governments higher than county level, i.e., state, federal, as well as declining funding from things like Medicare and Medicaid. Hey, I am well aware of those funding cuts. And I also understand unfunded mandates which I got the feeling Commissioner Costello wanted to call the public’s push for Chester County to keep funding Pocopson.

We went back and forth on the issues of government run versus private operations of things like trash hauling, supplying county government with things like paper towels and soap. But we’re not talking desks, chairs, paper towels or soap here. We are talking about people, elderly people who in lots of cases are not able to live anywhere else.

For a lot of elderly people, this is their only lifeline. And I told him that I based my blog opinion on the fact that I had personal experience in homes for the elderly with my own mom. Finding a facility is probably one of the most difficult things I have had to do as a caregiver. It is draining on more than a few levels.

And I in my own search visited government operated and private facilities. And my own conclusion was that those facilities operated by a government – even if only in the minds of the residents and their families – gave people more comfort than a private operation. The theory is that residents and their families at least feel like there is a direct line for concerns and/or complaints.

The example I gave the commissioner was that if you deal out a contract for trash hauling to a private vendor and you’re unhappy with the results, you simply change it up the next year or when the contract is expired. What do you do if your relative resides in a facility operated privately and there are issues? Well, I can tell you from personal experience that you are in for a long, rough, bumpy road.

And as for inspections? We all know there are rarely – if ever – surprise inspections so those inspections are really quite bogus.

My opinion – and only my opinion – is that Commissioner Costello feels that operating Pocopson is somewhat of a nuisance, a burden on the overall taxpayer in the county. That’s the impression he left me with.

My gut tells me that he’d push to get out its operation. After all, dealing with a home for the elderly comes with a lot of baggage. There are lots of personnel issues, overhead, complaints, and on and on.

Now he assured me that no decisions have been made and that the county is looking at all options moving forward. There are no changes happening tomorrow. But I also got a message loud and clear that just because nearly 300 people showed up to voice their concerns doesn’t mean the county isn’t going to make a change either.

Right now that answer doesn’t exist. However if I was a betting man – and I am – my bet would be that the county will get out of the business of running the Pocopson Home. And in my opinion as I stated in the previous blog post, that will prove to be a bad choice.

While government doesn’t belong in a lot of things, government also shouldn’t abandon its citizens, many of which spent years working and paying taxes to the government.

Chester County needs to continue to stand by their elderly residents, at least until a proven, slam-dunk option is presented. To me, that hasn’t happened yet.

And I’m sure I will be getting another telephone call from the commissioner or his assistant. And like I told him last week, he’s welcome to drop by any time. However, I know where I stand. I’ve looked into the eyes of lots of elderly residents and there were times I felt pretty bad with the looks that came back.

Is that what we really want here? I don’t think so.

— Andy Hachadorian

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About fromtheeditorchair

I am the editor of the Daily Local News.
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21 Responses to More on the state of affairs at the Pocopson Home

  1. Bob Woods says:

    Don’t we ever learn?
    Remember all the broken promises to find living arrangements for mentally challenged/ill citizens.

  2. Lisa Segers says:

    Please give more of a heads up if there are additional meeting for the public to attend. More of an advance than the day before or day of the event.

    • heidi surrey says:

      Lisa- we have to look daily in the classified section-under public notices. It could be a very small “block/notice” this time. Watch for the date -time and LOCATION!!!! Ms. Cozzone noted that a bigger room will need to be located.

  3. wktkw says:

    Thank you for you comments-I,too get the impression the Commissioner Costello has made up his mind even though all three commisioners deny it. I’m afraid that the general public is not going to want to fund Pocopson-especially when they hear the commisioner’s spin on the issue.It seems as though they want to blame every penny of any future tax increase on Pocopson. I want to know if the prison and the juvenile delinquent center make money for the county.Sell the prison-they can save the county just as much money by taking those employees off of the county payroll.

    • Andy says:

      Sell the Prison…..Just look at what has happened in Delco….they sold theirs years back too. Save anybody any $$$….nope! Just have a bunch of lawsuits on their books now. I think that the great “County of Chester” can afford to keep everything…and keep it running well!

  4. Nancy G says:

    You go, Andy. the fact that they are trying to screw over the elderly of Chester County makes me sick to my stomach. These are the very people that worked all their lives in Chester County. There are a million other places money can be cut. They just pick them because they are an easy target. They say you can tell alot about a person in the way they treat their elderly………pretty much tells me all I need to know about the commissioners. Just remember, karma is a biotch.

  5. bob says:

    What is wrong with you people? I do not want to fund an old age home, same way I like the idea of selling the prisons as well. all we need now is to sell the representatives. Oh wait they already did sell out to the highest bidder.

  6. We need you and other journalists & citizens to appear at the May 14 meeting (7pm) at the Downingtown East High School to voice your experience and opinions. They scheduled the meeting at a large venue, which means they either want to allow for a large group that last week overflowed the commissioners’ office or they want to make the group appear smaller and less significant by holding the meeting in such a large venue. Regardless, we need everyone to be there. I’ve written to Senator Dinniman but received no reply. I don’t trust Ryan Costello. He seems all too polished and ready to sell out the low income seniors of Chester County.

    • heidi surrey says:

      Agree! This is for ALL OF THE RESIDENTS of POCOPSON HOME- no matter what pays for their stay (private pay, medical insurance, medical assistance, long term care insurance, etc.). ALL of these RESIDENTS deserve RESPECT and QUALITY OF CARE! The continued (annual) loss of grants & monies, federal & state funding, for human services in the community should not be solved by only Pocopson Home- it too is a community service. This is “A JEWL, A GEM, THE HEART OF CHESTER COUNTY” that delivers care to residents-THE HEART- WITHOUT MISSING A BEAT. As a COMMUNITY PLEASE SUPPORT POCOPSON HOME. – Let’s fill that D-town East Auditorium and find a way to keep the COUNTY HEART BEATING!!

  7. Concerned Daughter says:

    I was curious if any of the commissioners have any relatives currently resinding in or in need of long term care facility for any of their loved ones? It is diificult at best to have a need for this care for a parent or spouse and trust me Pocopson is awesome with their residents, better than most private run homes. I know Pocopson is good, my Mom lives there, so I am speaking from experience. I understand that reimbursement is chaging but it is happening to all areas in the health industry not just County owned and operated ventures. Should our hospitals sell out, because they have been getting lower reimbursement also? Elderly poeple and people needing long term care are growing in numbers very fast. Unless you are independently wealthy most people cannot stay at home and take care of a loved one 24/7, we tried but eventually the need for round the clock care and the safety and well being of your loved becomes priority forcing a choice that is diificult at best for most families. Working full time, raising a child and taking care of a Mother who we moved in with us because she had Alzheimers was hard but Pocopson and the staff in it made a hard choice a little easier to bear knowing she is safe and well taken care of. What does privitization mean to the residents of Pocopson in the big picture of things? Will the friendly faces of the current staff who know everyones names and families dissappear in favor of temporaray agency staff who are not at all familiar with the residents or their needs ? I would hope that the collective minds at work in the County could come up with a more suitable solution instead of privitization! Access to care should be available to all who need it and currently that means County owned and operated for a lot of people, if that is gone what happens then? They are people who have names, families and faces. Maybe the commisioners should see those names families and faces and not dollar signs.

  8. What the consultants did not do, perhaps because they weren’t asked, was to examine ways to invest in Pocopson. They could not only expand services, but could also increase the size of the facility, adding assisted living space that would bring in revenue. It’s a fairly large property. They could even add daycare facilities. Why not grow Pocopson instead of trying to weed it out of the county? Because Ryan Costello just wants the problem to go away.

  9. W manuel says:

    Why. Don’t they. Look at the prison? Does. It make a lot. Of money? Sub it out to a private. Group. Like. Other states do. Leave our old and poor people. A lone.

  10. Sue says:

    Please help me to understand. What is wrong with “privatization”? I mean no disrespect. I have read some of the comments here and everyone seems to be in support of keeping Pocopson. My Dad was in Harrison House in Lancaster County nursing home for a short time and they did a fine job. Are they similar to Pocopson? Thank you.

    • It’s not a definite problem to go private but there are certain risks in it and the county needs to make sure it has a handle on the change before it does it simply in the name of saving money. We are talking about elderly residents who can’t advocate for themselves. This is a process that must be done with lots of research, homework and with some safeguards. That’s all I am saying. Going private isn’t always the answer. It’s just an easy answer.

  11. BP says:

    Thank you for devoting newspaper space and editorial comments to this issue. As many noted at the first meeting, including West Chester physicians who see patients from both Pocopson and private facilities, Pocopson Home is in fact a special place populated with special people. We can fund parks for $7million, but not $1.5milion for PEOPLE??? The wealthiest County in the state surely has the heart and resources to take care of its vulnerable and deserving citizens. Attend the meeting Monday 14 May 7pm Downingtown East Route 113 and show your support for our Jewel- Pocopson Home.

  12. To be specific, the risks include the loss of a nursing home that always accepts all Medicare and Medicaid coverage. Many, if not all, private nursing homes will not accept patients (or accept very few) who cannot be admitted as private pay residents, at least initially. Many, if not all, of the residents of Pocopson cannot afford a private pay facility, which is why we have and need Pocopson. I believe the report (http://www.chesco.org/chesco/lib/chesco/pocopson_strategic_plan.pdf) on the Chester County Commissioners website gives one all the current statistics on residents at Pocopson. If they privatize Pocopson, those statistics will change. And statistics mean people. Andy is right, they need to do their homework. The county needs to make sure that if they do privatize, there are stipulations in the contract that require the new owners to guarantee that a certain number of beds will be available to Chester County residents who cannot afford private pay. At most private nursing homes, that number is very low. At Pocopson, that number would need to be higher to accommodate the citizens of Chester County who rely on Medicaid and Medicare. What the numbers (and it is all about numbers) in the report don’t tell you is how few beds are available to Medicaid patients at the private facilities that claim to accept it. They also don’t show you what a great staff Pocopson has or how well-cared for the residents are.
    Despite what Ryan Costello would have us believe, it’s not all about financial profit and loss. It’s about services that we should provide to the taxpaying citizens of the county. The PA state budget was just passed with an $84 million dollar increase to social services. Shouldn’t some of that go to maintaining a county nursing home that is treasured by its residents? As someone at the last meeting said, why fix something that isn’t broken?

  13. SuzieQ2012 says:

    What do other counties in other states do with their low income elderly residents? Are there other “Pocopson” homes elsewhere, I wonder?

  14. SuzieQ says:

    Hello? Where is my comment?

  15. SuzieQ2012 says:

    Where is my comment from this AM?

  16. wktkw says:

    Many other counties in Pa have LTC’s similar to Pocopson.Some have had this debate-one actually presented the matter in a referendum and the community voted to keep funding the home.Some LTC’s have expanded services and actually make a profit . You have to spend money to make money.I am not sure about the viability of building assisted living housing there but it would carry a hefty price tag-Maybe the commisioners should commision another report? Pocopson started out as the county poorhouse and it was never supposed to make money,it was all about caring for those unable to care for themselves….Bottom line -they need to do the RIGHT THING and re-commit to caring for this population.

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