Add To Favorites In PHR
Good Shepherd will bow out of managing Cedarbrook nursing home
Morning Call - 1/11/2019
Jan. 11--Lehigh County intends to take over day-to-day operations of Cedarbrook Senior Care and Rehabilitation at the end of February after learning Good Shepherd Rehabilitation will not renew its management contract.
Commissioners turned over daily operations of the county nursing home to Good Shepherd in 2016 in a $2.2 million contract. The Allentown nonprofit, best known for its rehabilitation services for the disabled, had run specialty nursing homes in the past but never one close to Cedarbrook's size of up to 670 residents.
Lynn Gerlach, manager of marketing and communications for Good Shepherd, said the county's staff and leadership in place at Cedarbrook is positioned to continue the success Good Shepherd has achieved.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to manage Cedarbrook Senior Care and Rehabilitation and to serve the residents of Lehigh County in this capacity for the past three years; however, we feel that it is time to refocus on our core business and partnerships as well as nourish our reputation as an international destination for recovery," she said.
Commissioners hesitated for months to hire Good Shepherd, but came away pleased with the results. Good Shepherd improved Cedarbrook's Medicare rating to five stars, the highest score possible, by reducing the use of restraints and psychotropic medications and avoiding major citations on state inspections.
County Executive Phillips Armstrong praised Good Shepherd for the service it provided over the last three years.
"They have been excellent. Joseph Shadid [the Cedarbrook administrator and Good Shepherd employee] has been excellent," he said Thursday evening.
Armstrong said the county anticipated Good Shepherd's departure after it lost the bidding on the nursing home's rehabilitation contract in 2017. Good Shepherd hoped that it would land the contract thanks to its role managing the South Whitehall Township and Fountain Hill facilities, he said, but the contract went to Advantage Care Rehabilitation out of Pittsburgh.
Good Shepherd's coming departure means Lehigh County will take over direct management of one of the largest county nursing homes in the state for the first time since at least 1994. Before Good Shepherd, Cedarbrook was managed by LW Consulting for 11 years.
Jason Cumello, Cedarbrook's assistant administrator, will take over as administrator once the Good Shepherd contract expires, Armstrong said. Cumello, who has been a regular presence at commissioner meetings for months, has been the top county official overseeing operations at the smaller Fountain Hill facility, Armstrong said.
"Long-term, we are looking to do it in house but are looking at hiring a consulting company to keep us abreast of what's new in Medicaid and Medicare," he said. "That will save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Commissioner Dan Hartzell, chairman of the board's Cedarbrook Committee, said he was disappointed to see Good Shepherd leaving. During his campaign for office in 2015, he criticized commissioners for balking at hiring the nonprofit to oversee day-to-day operations. After winning office, Hartzell cast one of eight votes in support of the Good Shepherd contract.
At the same time, he's intrigued to see if the county can manage the day-to-day operations. Northampton County has committed to bringing management of its Gracedale Nursing Home in house this year, and he believes the time is right for similar steps in Lehigh County.
"Are we sure we can't manage it ourselves as effectively as possible? That is something for us to consider," he said.
Commissioner Brad Osborne, another early supporter of Good Shepherd, said he was on board with Armstrong's plan to bring management in house.
"The goal for both the administration and the board of commissioners is that we maintain quality care for the residents of Cedarbrook and their families in the future. How we can do that most economically and professionally is something that we can work out," he said.
Lehigh County already has major changes in store for Cedarbrook's future. Commissioners have signed off on plans to add a wing for residents and to convert two century-old wings into offices and apartments for independent seniors. Those plans have been delayed, however, because of problems getting building waivers from the state, Director of General Services Rick Molchany told commissioners Wednesday night.
(c)2019 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
Visit The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) at www.mcall.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.