By Jennifer Gregory
As we approach the next phase in the process of privatizing of the long embattled Monmouth County Care Centers, the following items were submitted to the Freeholders, on behalf of the residents and family members of John L. Montgomery, to be included in the Request for Proposal and the Conditions of the Sale of their home:
*If current Residents are admitted to the hospital, stay longer than 10 days, and lose their bedhold, new owners must accept and readmit our current residents regardless of their payer source, including Medicaid.
*New Owners must have a background of providing a high level of care to the residents of the facilities they already own. They must have a 3 star or better rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).
*John L. Montgomery Care Center remain a Long Term Care facility for 5 years to ensure current Medicaid residents continue to have a familiar place to call home.
*New Management maintain a designated Restorative Therapy Program for residents who are not actively receiving skilled Physical/Occupational/or Speech Therapy. The residents of JLM currently receive 3 to 4 days a week of maintenance therapy, by trained JLM staff, which is invaluable to them for their physical and mental well-being.
*The Computer Lab continue to be open and available to residents 7 days a week, staffed by a Systems Technician who has experience repairing and maintaining computers and adaptive equipment.
*Residents continue to have Independent Out – On Pass privileges, if deemed capable by the Interdisciplinary Team. This includes use of New Jersey Access-Link transportation services, as well as, driving power wheelchairs to downtown Freehold – Independently.
*A designated smoking area (25 feet from the building) will stay in effect.
Should the new owners convert the facility to a “Smoke Free” facility current residents will be ‘grandfathered’ into being allowed to smoke in the designated areas.
*New owners continue to provide monthly trips for residents unable to independently travel in the community.
This list is a compilation of items from residents, family members, and staff that have been mentioned to the Freeholders during General Freeholder Meetings and during one to one conversations over the past few years. We felt a short summary of the programs and services our residents rely on day in and day out – might be helpful to the Freeholders. It is my hope that by maintaining some of the special programs that our residents have become accustomed to – they will breathe a little easier and adjust to the changes with fewer difficulties or worries. While this list is not every item, service, or program residents would like to see carried over to the new owners, the residents feel these items are the most important.
Along with this list of eight conditions for the sale, I would like to respectfully request the Members of the Current Board of Chosen Freeholds, should they still be in office or not come November 2015, sit down and meet with the John L. Montgomery Resident Council 12 months after the official separation from Monmouth County. This meeting could be considered a wellness/courtesy check to ensure that the care of these Monmouth County Citizens are being well served by the new ownership. Monmouth County made a promise to its most vulnerable citizens in 1930- that regardless of their financial status if they became sick or disabled they would have a safe haven and the “Briar Hill Welfare House” was born. This legacy has carried on for nearly a century. As things change and priorities shift, decisions based on pocketbooks instead of human welfare prevail, we hope that the Board of Freeholders will take the time to meet with our residents next year to make sure they are ok…
Thank you for your time
Jennifer Gregory, CTRS is the Therapeutic Recreation Director at the John L. Montgomery Care Center in Freehold. She has been a staff member at JLM for 19 years.