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Officials In Montgomery County Finalizing Plans To Sell Nursing Care Facility

By Steve Patterson

ROYERSFORD, Pa., (CBS) --  Montgomery County Commissioners say they're in finalizing plans to sell a large nursing care facility, while opponents are getting vocal on worries about privatizing care and how the company will use the land around the site.

County officials want to sell the Parkhouse, a nursing home that houses some 500 residents, employs nearly 700 people and sits on about 200 acres of land.  The deal is set at $39 million from the private Maryland company: $36 million for the facility and $3 million for the land.

"The fear is that if it goes into private hands, we wont be able to guarantee it remains this pristine space," said Upper Providence Township Supervisor Lisa Mossie. She is leading the opposition charge for the County to provide more reasoning on their decision and more assurance about what happens when the property changes hands.

"My concern is that the motivation of this sale is not so much to privatize this, as it is to fix a budget problem that Montgomery County already has…. to plug a hole," she said. "And when that is your motivation, then I question everything about it. You have to."

Upper Providence Resident Sharon Gehman placed her mother in the facility 13 months ago and is now worried about how care will change when the facility becomes privatized.

"We're being assured by the commissioners and Mid Atlantic that nothing will change,"  she said.  "My fear is that the quality of care will change. The staff here is exceptional and you always have to worry that when something's being privatized, something will change. These assurances don't feel real."

County Commissioner Josh Shapiro says a private company will only improve care, resolve debt and ease the burden on taxpayers.

It's a very small minority that's misconstruing the facts purposefully to try and create hay where there is none," he said. "At the end of the day, our residents are going to be better off, employees will be protected and the community will benefit from having this back on the tax rolls."

The finalized date is currently set for January 31st.

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