BELLEFONTE — As a Centre Care board member, Steve Brown said rubbing elbows and sharing ice cream with Centre Crest residents and staff members is one of the most important things they can be doing right now.
The new nonprofit board held an ice cream social at the nursing home Wednesday, attended by residents, staff, all nine board members, the county commissioners, the management company Complete HealthCare Resources and union representatives.
“It’s incredibly valuable. It’s invaluable,” he said of the face time with everyone. “You can’t duplicate this with memos. You can’t duplicate what this does.”
Brown said he was delighted with the turnout from the people of all the different areas and hopes they can put together another event like it during the transition.
It was also a fun time for many of the residents.
Ellen Fye has only been in the nursing home for a couple of months, but she had some ice cream and got the chance to talk to some of the board members. She got good vibes.
“I think this is very nice that they did this,” she said.
Centre Crest union representative Tom Gibbs also spoke highly of the event and the smooth transition to the nonprofit to this point.
“The residents seem to be enjoying it and that’s the most important thing,” he said.
He said CHR has agreed to honor all employee benefits during the transition and is willing to negotiate with the union.
The transition is expected to be completed by Nov. 1.
Gibbs said the majority of the negotiations haven’t started yet because of the focus on the transition, but he expects to begin sitting down more frequently by the end of September. He said the talks should go as smoothly as contract negotiations can.
He is hoping the change turns out to be a positive one for the nursing home.
“Going forward, I think things will get better,” he said. “Better for the home, better for the employees and better for the residents.”
Throughout this transition, the number of residents in the home has been steadily rising.
Board of Commissioners Chairman Steve Dershem said the count is above 220 as of Wednesday. When the change was being discussed, the home saw numbers in the low 200s.
Though he said it will no longer be in the county hands, he will still be there if something happens because the county wants it to succeed.
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.