As potential sale looms, Pleasant Acres nursing home sees more employees calling off
As York County mulls the sale of its nursing home, Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is seeing a high number of employees calling off from work.
Tammy Hetrick, the center's administrator, confirmed officials have noticed an increasing number of employees missing work, though they can't determine whether this is because of to the pending sale or the recent Easter holiday, she wrote in a statement.
Eleven employees called off during the weekend of March 31-April 1, according to county solicitor Glenn Smith, who added that the number does not include employees who took paid time off.
County commissioners unanimously approved an agreement with Susquehanna Group Advisors in late January to explore the possibility of selling the 375-bed nursing home.
They received six bids ranging from $26 million to $32 million and have narrowed it down to three finalists: Allaire Health Services, Long Term Care LLC and Premier Healthcare Inc.
Commissioner Doug Hoke said a group consisting of county officials and Pleasant Acres employees will visit nursing homes operated by the finalists during the next couple of weeks before commissioners make their final decision at a public meeting.
Hoke said all three finalists have shown an emphasis on quality of care and retaining employees.
"We think (Pleasant Acres employees') jobs are fairly secure," he said.
Hoke said he doesn't know if the potential sale is causing the increased number of call-offs, but he does believe the sooner they can provide everyone with more clarity on the future of Pleasant Acres the better.
Commissioners held three public town-hall meetings regarding the potential sale, and public attendees roundly criticized the idea, pleading with county officials to keep Pleasant Acres under county control.
Some of those pleas came from Pleasant Acres employees.
During the first meeting, Pleasant Acres employee Brenda Disla said she previously worked in a private nursing home in Lehigh Valley, and she felt it was all about making a profit.
"It's not the same. It's not at all," she said of the difference between county-owned and private facilities. "It's all about the Benjamins."
The final meeting March 27 was ended abruptly after Smith warned a former nursing home employee about specifically criticizing President Commissioner Susan Byrnes.
Commissioner Chris Reilly, who has publicly stated his support for selling Pleasant Acres for years because of the high taxpayer burden, said the increasing number of call-offs isn't helping the situation.
"One of the concerns we heard at the public meetings was about continuing the high level of care," Reilly said. "If you're concerned about the high level of care, you should be (at work)."
In her statement, Hetrick noted that Pleasant Acres continues to staff above state minimum requirements and will continue to do so.
"At no time has any lapse or diminished care occurred, and we consistently monitor our staff-to-resident ratio to ensure that we are providing quality care," she wrote.
Representatives from Teamsters Local 776, the union representing Pleasant Acres employees, did not return multiple calls requesting comment.
— Reach David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.