Blaine Young: Frederick County needs to get out of the nursing home business -- Gazette.Net


The subject of the day in the local press seems to be the future of the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and the Montevue Assisted Living facility. Of course, as we have come to expect from our local newspapers, you only see one side of the story.

Let me try to rectify that.

First, we have read about the deed, which some claim requires Frederick County to remain in a money-losing business, at a cost to the taxpayers of millions of dollars per year — indefinitely.

And, of course, we do not read that this is a business that almost without exception throughout the state of Maryland is offered by the private sector, much more efficiently, without taxpayer bailouts.

Now the truth: The county purchased the property (it was not donated as some claim) in 1828. The deed does say the intent of the purchase was for the “benefit of the poor.” However, it says nothing about the county operating a nursing home.

Over time, other uses unrelated to “the poor” have been built and operated on the property, including communications facilities, transportation service centers, offices and other public uses. The county attorney has opined that the language in the deed in no way precludes the county from selling the property and facilities. So let’s put that one to rest.

Next we hear that the sale of the facility will cause current residents to be “put on the street.” Untrue! Maryland law requires any operator to care for current residents in place at the time of the transfer. In no way would the county permit such a displacement. Period!

The county has circulated a Request for Proposals, or RFP, from parties interested in acquiring the property and the facilities. Remember, these facilities cost the taxpayers almost $40 million to construct, and it is operated at a deficit (funded by tax dollars) of almost $5 million per year.

Some think the elected officials of this county owe it to the taxpayers to explore if there is a way to relieve the burden they are carrying to subsidize this operation. The refusal of prior Frederick County Boards of Commissioners to even look into it is not justifiable, and the current board has rectified that.

The fact that an RFP was circulated and responses received does not mean the facilities must be sold. But it does mean that the commissioners owe it to every taxpayer to analyze the responses and make a decision as to what is best for the entire community, not just for a vested few.

There must be good reasons why every county in the state except one has gotten out of the nursing home business. It doesn’t mean we don’t respect our seniors.

In fact, this board of commissioners has done much to try to help our seniors buck the trend being set in Annapolis, and actually retire and stay in Frederick County and live with dignity.

Not only did we pass a real senior property tax credit, but if you click the link below you will see other services Frederick County has available for senior citizens:

Now, I guess I will be called mean-spirited and that I have no compassion since I have stated the facts. Judge for yourself.

Blaine R. Young (R), who is president of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, is a resident of Monrovia.