Mercer Co. officials reject Woodland plan

By Mary Grzebieniak

The facility’s bond payments are $700,000 a year.

MERCER, Pa. — Commissioners said a business plan recently submitted to them by the Woodland Place nursing home is unacceptable, and they are reviewing their options.

Woodland Place bought the 200-acre former county nursing home property in Coolspring Township several years ago. It owes the county more than $2 million in bond payments, which the county was forced to pay because several years ago it guaranteed an $8 million loan for the facility’s renovations.

Commissioners are wondering when the financially troubled nursing home will repay the county the bond payments as required by the loan agreement.

The nursing home officials had submitted to commissioners Feb. 29 an action plan describing ways it anticipates saving money, such as freezing employee wages for one year.

But commissioners said Wednesday they notified Woodland Place’s governing board that they have rejected the plan because “it falls far short of anything that will address the situation,” said Commissioner John Lechner.

Commissioner Brian Beader agreed the plan was inadequate because it doesn’t provide a time frame and repayment schedule.

According to the plan, $244,500 could be saved in 2008 by cutting expenses. The bond payments run about $700,000 annually, however. An earlier report on the facility, by Complete Health Care, had concluded that it could take several years for the nursing home to repay the county.

Commissioner Kenneth Ammann said while the plan addresses some issues, commissioners need “a full re-evaluation of how the place operates, and they didn’t do this.”

Lechner said the county will continue to review its options and have been talking with its solicitors, as well as County Controller Tom Amundsen and County Fiscal Director John Logan.

He added, however, “We are committed to keeping Woodland Place open and functioning and don’t want to lose it as a county resource. We want it to provide quality care to residents.”

Beader agreed that it is in the interest of both the county and Woodland Place to keep the nursing home open.

The nursing home’s board is scheduled to meet today. The meetings are not open to the public.

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