7 members named to Centre Crest nonprofit board

Seven of the nine members for the new Centre Crest nonprofit community board have been named, and Centre County Board of Commissioners Chairman Steve Dershem described them as a dream team.

The new board — Mount Nittany Health board member Carl Raup, Mount Nittany Health chief financial officer Rich Wisniewski, local business consultant Larry Bickford, Mount Nittany Health CEO Steve Brown, registered nurse Sally Walker, Centre Crest Auxiliary United Way liaison Betsy Boyer and retired banker Bill Rockey — will work together to choose the final two members.

“I think at this point it’s a very strong board,” Dershem said. “I think they bring a lot of experience and a lot of talent.”

The commissioners passed a motion 2-1 last week to form the board and draw up all necessary paperwork to transfer the troubled nursing home’s deed and license. Officials are hoping the whole process can be wrapped up by the end of the year to raise Medicaid reimbursement levels at the facility.

The county sent out feelers to many possible board members and these seven expressed strong interest in being a part of it. Dershem is pleased with the various backgrounds that are represented.

Mount Nittany Health representatives make up a strong portion of the board because the hospital has been presented many times as a model for the new nursing home.

That relationship will be mutually beneficial, Commissioner Chris Exarchos said. It could help on the medical side with patients and staffing, and the members’ health care knowledge will be a plus, he said.

“I think they’re all committed and excited,” he said. “It’s going to be successful.”

No commissioners will serve on the board, but Commissioner Michael Pipe said it is possible that one of the three or another representative from the county will be an ex-officio member. That member would have no voting power, but would be invited to all meetings.

County officials have discussed allowing the nonprofit to work rent-free for five years, and the county representative would help provide oversight of the process, Pipe said.

For Pipe, the key will be a board focused on keeping the home a nonprofit. He wouldn’t want to see the license sold at any point after the transfer. All three commissioners have been outspoken against a sale.

“I think the big focus I have now is making sure there are people from Bellefonte, interested in keeping it a nonprofit,” he said.

Pipe voted against the motion, but he said he’ll still do his best to help the board with any needs it might have.

The county does not need to take formal action to approve the board. Once it is complete, the members will file to incorporate as a public nonprofit and the commissioners will vote to transfer the deed and license.

That transfer will amount to a clean break, Pipe said. All managerial and operational decisions will be in the hands of the nonprofit.