Major changes at Pocopson? Be careful what you wish for…

I read Daily Local reporter Michael Rellahan’s account of Monday night’s meeting at Downingtown East High concerning the Pocopson Home. Hundreds turned out again in the second public meeting concerning the future of the facility.

Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello told the large audience that the purpose of the meetings was to educate and not to scare anyone. Apparently many of the Pocopson residents are terrified that the place they call home will be or may be turned over to a private operation.

However the commissioner (I assume acting as the spokesman for all commissioners) made some pretty hefty promises and made some bold statements I’m not sure he’s really ready to back up. And if he is prepared to do just that and the county can save money and maintain operational success then by all means go for it.

But a word or two of caution here. Again, I don’t see how the promises can be made.

For example:

1)       “I am not interested in being a part of anything that would involve any of you moving out of your home,” said Costello of the home.

2)      Residents who live there now would not be forced to leave the facility many think of as “home” regardless of what decisions are made as to its ownership.

3)      Costello and his fellow commissioners tried to assure the employees at Pocopson that they were grateful for the job they have done caring for the residents there and were not setting out to deprive them of pay or benefits by selling the facility to a private owner.

4)      The commissioners, after hearing from their consultant about costs associated with Pocopson and possible revenue enhancement, also told those attending the meeting that no bids had been solicited for the facility and no timetable was set for a decision on its long-range future. It may come months from now or not at all.

I suppose my cynical nature makes me wonder how the promise can be made that if a private enterprise takes over what would prevent them from moving residents out? What agreements would be in place to stop that?

As to the employees, again, how can such guarantees be made as to pay, benefits, continued employment?

And if the facility is such a drain, would it not be prudent TO set a timetable for a decision?

According to Rellahan’s story, Pocopson faces questions about its future because revenues from the Medicare and Medicaid patients it serves are dropping while capital costs are looming. The county, which once saw the home providing revenue, now sees operating losses at the facility, according to a study completed by a King of Prussia-based health care consultant – Premier.

The story said that while less boisterous than the first in the series of public meetings on the home’s future that the commissioners have promised held two weeks ago, the crowd Monday for the most part was still solidly behind the notion that Pocopson should remain in public hands and not those of a private operator.

“I think that privatization, although no one wants to see their taxes increased, could be disastrous for the residents and the staff,” said Ann Bird of West Pikeland.

“I think that Pocopson should remain a county-owned facility, just as we control our roads and our bridges and our liquor stores,” said Frank Moon of Pennsbury. “We need to be able to find taxpayer dollars to support these 300 people.”

I would love to speak further to Helen Webber of East Goshen who said she hoped the commissioners would decide to sell the facility and stop providing long-term care. “I don’t know why the county should be in this business,” adding that she saw no reason why taxpayers should be asked to fund Pocopson.

I guess I would ask her if she feels confident that when she reaches her “golden years” and possible needs somewhere to go to live out her remaining years she has a place to go. If she does, then she’s very lucky.

Ms. Webber – not everyone is that lucky.

Chairman Terence Farrell at one point asked Moon, who spoke critically about property taxes he paid to the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, whether he would be willing to support a hypothetical 3 percent or 4 percent tax increase to keep Pocopson in county hands.

“Yes, I would,” Moon said, to applause.

Premier officials also reviewed new programs that could be initiated at Pocopson — such as dialysis treatment or short-term rehabilitation care — that would provide new revenue for the facility. However, some of those carried with them capital costs that would be added to the $6 million in building costs the home is estimated to need over the next five years.

The commissioners said that they were still studying the details of Premier’s evaluation, and that the next public meeting would focus on its assessment of three possible alternatives to keeping the facility run as it is now — transforming Pocopson to a nonprofit corporation overseen by the commissioners, leasing it to a private operator or selling it outright.

Deep down in my gut, I still get the sense that the Helen Webbers of the world – along with some members of the county government – see Pocopson as a burden we don’t need, a unnecessary evil, something we can do without.

That is until they themselves end up with nowhere to go and no family to lean on.

Folks, be careful for what you wish for…

— Andy Hachadorian

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About fromtheeditorchair

I am the editor of the Daily Local News.
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9 Responses to Major changes at Pocopson? Be careful what you wish for…

  1. deluca60 says:

    The most rapid growth in the older population is occurring among the very old (over age 80).As the baby boom generation continues to swell the over 65 population and that will continue for the next 15 years. Additionally, old people may become poorer since the current over 50 population is less likely to have a defined income pension such as their parents had and social security is questionable and if available will not have kept pace with inflation. So, there could be a lot more older people in Chester County who will need services such as Pocopson Home in the future. This is just the beginning and we need to figure out how to care for the elderly in the most cost effective way and I doubt privatizing is the simple solution some would like to believe.

  2. SuzieQ2012 says:

    Andy, again I ask, were do all of the other old, poor people live in CC and surrounding areas?
    Other states, even? I don’t see many sick and elderly living on the streets, so something must be working somewhere. The notion that the staff there are extra special versus the staff at a place that is privatized, is weak. Change is constant in life and nurses, aides and staff come and go all the time no matter who owns a place.

    • Actually, I think you’re making my argument for me and I thank you for that. “I don’t see many sick and elderly living on the streets, so something must be working somewhere.” Perhaps because a lot of them live at Pocopson? And to be clear, there are tremendous facilities everywhere that are private. The question would be one of economics. If someone is funded through Medicare or Medicaid, are those private facilities accepting them and their small amounts of money into their lavish operations? My guess is no…

  3. SuzieQ2012 says:

    Still nothin’ from the big guy in the gangster hat and a big stinky, cancer ridden cigar.

  4. dancer says:

    There are 20 other nursing homes in Chester County with a total of $2,343 beds. None of them receive funding from the county. Why is the county in the health care business?

  5. BP says:

    dqancer- Pocopson is not a business, but a service provided to citizens, like many many many other services provided by the County to residents of all ages and various needs. Peruse the budget to see all the necessary services provided. You could even say we are in many “businesses” but that is not the way I choose to see it.

    SuzieQ2012 commented- “The notion that the staff there are extra special versus the staff at a place that is privatized, is weak.” I think if you spent time there you might question the strength of your own statement. Speakers at the meeting mean what they say in trying to convey how special it is.

  6. BP says:

    dancer- Pocopson is not a business, but a service provided to citizens, like many many many other services provided by the County to residents of all ages and various needs. Peruse the budget to see all the necessary services provided. You could even say we are in many “businesses” but that is not the way I choose to see it.

    SuzieQ2012 commented- “The notion that the staff there are extra special versus the staff at a place that is privatized, is weak.” I think if you spent time there you might question the strength of your own statement. Speakers at the meeting mean what they say in trying to convey how special it is.

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