By Jennifer Gregory, CTRS
I am writing this letter in response to the countless articles written by the Asbury Park Press, their editorials, the treatment of Monmouth County Employees and the family Members of the Monmouth County Care Centers. I am an 18 years employee of Monmouth County and I work at the John L. Montgomery Care Center in Freehold, NJ. We are a long term Care facility that takes care of Monmouth County’s most vulnerable young citizens. There are 62 residents under the age of 59. Currently, our youngest resident is just 17 years old. I mention the age of our population because several of your articles have pointed out how many empty Medicaid beds are available in other private Monmouth County Nursing Homes that our residents could easily be transferred to, should Freeholder Curley succeed in Closing, Selling, or Privatizing the John L. Montgomery Care Center. These “typical” other private nursing homes are perfectly fine for your average geriatric residents but are not suitable alternatives for residents of John L. Montgomery. Our residents are in their teens, twenties, thirties, and forties, who are not grandparents or your elderly parents but they are your children, your brothers, and your sisters… They are not looking to reflect on their lives but looking to live their lives to the fullest with the possibility of new experiences, friendships, and futures. That is what Monmouth County provides its citizens with at the 5 Star Rated John L. Montgomery Care Center.
I believe the Monmouth County Freeholders, and especially Freeholder Curley who is our Leader and Liaison, should take pride in the wonderful care they offer their most vulnerable Monmouth County Citizens. But instead, dedicated and passionate Care Center Employees and Family Members are berated at Freeholder Meetings and articles are written that destroy any chance of increasing our census, which would improve our fiscal situation. Ask yourselves why is a 5 Star Nursing Home struggling to fill beds? The answer is clear…
Can you imagine what it would be like to be a 17 year old living in a facility with peers who are in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s? What kind of quality of life would that be? I can assure you there are no other nearby Monmouth County Private facilities that can meet the needs and offer the services that we provide our young residents. We have a state of the art adapted computer lab open 7 days a week and every holiday. We assist our residents with further education, many of whom attend or have graduated from local colleges. Our residents edit and publish a monthly newsletter available on-line. They are very involved in community life- taking trips to concerts, Atlantic City, Football Games, Beaches, and attending Monmouth County Political events such as Freeholder Meetings. Our residents are also published artists, authors, and poets that compete in local literary and art contests. These services are not offered, provided, or are available in other local “typical” nursing homes because this population is unique, dynamic, and completely different than other facilities!!!
The Taxpayers of Monmouth County and the Board of Chosen Freeholders should take pride in the fact that they take care of their most vulnerable citizens in the manner that they do! Then they should advertise this fact and not close or privatize John L. Montgomery. I completely understand the Care Centers are currently not making the County money and have not been for the past few years and I am certainly not minimizing this fact. But in all reality – many, many other Monmouth County Departments do not make the County money, either. Do the Parks and Library systems make Monmouth County money? When it only costs the average Monmouth County resident $2.00 to $4.00 a month (a cup of coffee) to fund the Care Centers and provide services to our citizens—Shouldn’t we do it? How can you, in good conscience, not? And why are we not yelling from the rafters…Hey We Are Monmouth County and Not Only Do We Provide Our Taxpayers with the BEST Park Systems, one of the GREATEST Library systems, and a WONDERFUL Law Enforcement Department BUT We Also Have a Heart and Provide our Sick, Injured, and Disabled Citizens A HOME like no other County in the STATE!!!
My God, why are we yelling and calling our passionate/caring County Employees derogatory names at Freeholder Meetings? When we are only making suggestions on how to raise money and encourage Freeholders to explore other options and ways to keep John L. Montgomery as it is, a wonderful additional service to Monmouth County Taxpayers, available if godforbid they need us!!! What we really should be doing is praising the staff for their dedication and sacrifice!
In conclusion, I would say the continual articles and recent Freeholder Meetings have left me speechless, however, this letter proves me wrong. I believe what I really am is disappointed and tired… but I assure you that my co-workers and I have not stopped fighting for the residents, staff, and family that is the John L. Montgomery Care Center!!
Jennifer Gregory CTRS, is the Director of Therapeutic Recreation at the John L. Montgomery Care Center