A Case For Keeping The John L. Montgomery Care Center County Owned

By Jennifer Gregory, CTRS

JLMI 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 

Posted: September 26th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: John Curley, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Health Department, Opinion, Property Taxes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

7 Comments on “A Case For Keeping The John L. Montgomery Care Center County Owned”

  1. Kathy Baratta said at 10:13 pm on September 26th, 2014:

    Ms. Gregory,

    You are so right and I commend you for every word you wrote.

    I interviewed your illustrious former director (and Bruce Springsteen’s aunt), Dora Kirby for a local newspaper some thirty years ago. It was an article about the facility, not her nephew although her office certainly did reflect a proud aunt.

    She was also proud of the facility and the hundreds of persons it had helped over the years. I spoke with some of the residents, a couple of whom were teenagers recuperating from serious, disabling physical injuries. I had gone there thinking it was a nursing home for the elderly and came away knowing it was so much more and so very important. As I said, that was about thirty or so years ago. The need for it then was great. I can only assume it is more so now.

    Oh, and my sister got her R.N. at Brookdale all the while employed at John L. Montgomery. She’s lived out-of-state almost since then and as a working RN has seen health care in states from Maine to Virginia due to her husband’s career with the federal government. Over the years I’ve run into people who know her from JL Montgomery and when I tell her about it and we speak of the place she always speaks with pride about her time working there and how, through her various moves to the different states, she came to realize the importance of the place to the residents and yes, the credit of Monmouth County.

    She and I don’t agree on a lot but we both agree the idea of closing the place is, at best, a misguided one.

  2. Kathy Baratta said at 10:18 pm on September 26th, 2014:

    That should have read, “Doris” Kirby. Too many hours since then of Dora the Explorer with my grandaughters, I guess.

  3. Kenya East said at 8:42 am on September 27th, 2014:

    Man… I don’t know what the [expletive] you just said, Little Kid, but you’re special man, you reached out, and you touch a brother’s heart.

    But all of those words do not address the question or issue which is should taxpayers of this county be on the hook for the cost? I’d like to think all of our hearts can agree we shiuld save the rain forest, protect the elephants, help the Bengal tigers and even feed ALL of the African babies and get their cleft lips fixed, cure and eradicate Ebola while we are at it, oh what a wonderful world it would be. I just dont think its right or fair to ask the taxpayers of Monmouth County to foot the bill.

    Hopefully the freeholders acknowledge the touching stories and demonstrate they have hearts, then hopefully acknowledge fiscal reality and demonstrate they have the brain and will to do what is responsible and right for the people of monmouth County and get the local government out if a business it should never have been part of and is losing money trying to operate.

  4. Name (required) said at 9:08 am on September 27th, 2014:

    Curley is the Flippy of a new generation. Minus the 17 different pensions, of course. But all the same, no less of an asshole. This guy will say whatever he has to, just to keep himself in the news.

  5. I believe said at 10:53 am on September 27th, 2014:

    it was Dora Kirby.. what scares me the most is: “leaders” who think they can have it all ways- and, that everyone will always love them: how anyone can pledge that all the employees will keep their jobs, and all the residents will receive the same exceptional care when they dump the homes, is totally unrealistic, disingenuous, and plain wrong: how do you force a new owner to do ANYthing, after they take possession, and it’s no longer your call? Yes, something finally must be done/ done differently: but, with no clear, beneficial offers yet showing, the grandstanding and embarrassing public arguing needs to stop- yesterday-and, cooler, clearer, mature heads, need to prevail, now! Personally, would prefer combining the two homes into the one in Freehold, then selling the Wall property to help stop the financial bleeding. And then, bring Freehold up to snuff- if they can find millions for capital equipment, and huge new facades for 911 and Prosecutor, they can certainly prioritize for the human,and humane, element to this story!

  6. Jennifer Gregory, CTRS said at 10:51 am on September 28th, 2014:

    Thank you Kathy Baratta for your kind words and your continued support of the John L. Montgomery Care Center. I have heard stories of Mrs. Kirby and holiday visits from Bruce who would walk the halls with his guitar singing Christmas Carols. Bruce would actually donate box seats and back stage passes to the residents and a friend of his who was also a resident. I was lucky enough to benefit from Mr. Springsteen’s generousity and accompany the residents a few times and it was amazing! However, times have changed and we are struggling to survive. It’s really difficult to imagine a 5 star long term care facility struggling to fill it’s beds but because of all the negative press and the uncertainity of our future, people will choose a lower quality but more stable facility to care for their loved ones. Days of Freeholder Ted Narozanick walking the halls, thanking the employees for their service to citizens of Monmouth County, and talking to residents are long gone. This is definitely an emotional issue and the family members and staff of John L. Montgomery will continue to show up and fight at the Freeholder Meetings even when they are verbally attacked and berated for offering suggestions and ideas on how to save the facility. While I can definitely appreciate Mr. Curey’s honesty and point of view the approach is what is so upsetting. Maybe forming this new “task force” is the correct move for Monmouth County. I certainly hope your suggestion of combining the facilities is examined, as well as, truely marketing us and getting the word out…We are an asset to the taxpayers of Monmouth County – god forbid they need us… Thank you again, jen

  7. Kathy Baratta said at 2:35 pm on September 28th, 2014:


    You are very welcome.

    Oh, and one thing you have to keep in mind. Ted Narazonick was an elected official who cared about the quality of life of his constituents and the county workers who made Monmouth County as desirable a place to live as it is. Curley is an elected official for whom constituents only represent votes and county workers are grist for his re-election campaign mill and so he panders to people for whom money matters more than people. The influx of people who bought their McMansions and now hold their breath waiting for the real estate bubble to re-inflate so they can cash out. For someone like that, people helping people doesn’t matter, in fact it’s counter-productive to their investment portfolio. They’re not invested in the county – they have no history here and feel no real connection or affection for it or the people living in it.

    Money talks and doing the right thing can take a walk. That’s politics these days.