County votes to notify state of Centre Crest transfer

After last month’s vote to begin the transfer of Centre Crest to a nonprofit, the Centre County Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 on Tuesday to notify the state.

The motion was to alert state departments such as Health and Public Welfare of the commissioners’ decision to transfer the license and beds to the newly incorporated Centre Care.

“This is primarily just a procedural motion so we can have the conversations necessary with the state,” Chairman Steve Dershem said.

Commissioner Michael Pipe voted against the motion because he wanted to stay consistent with his previous vote against starting the transfer. But Pipe said he realized the transfer is going to happen, and his new goal is to ensure the board is transparent and gives the public as much information as they can.

“My focus now is making sure everything is done in the most open way possible,” Pipe said.

One thing he said he would like to see is a tentative timeline and road map of what needs to be done going forward, released to the public by next week’s meeting.

That draft timeline, compiled by the consultants Complete HealthCare Resources, would have the transfer completed by the beginning of November, Dershem said. Much of that will just be time taken drafting up paperwork and making all the necessary adjustments, he said.

CHR also was recently hired as the management team for the nonprofit, a move Pipe agrees with.

“I think it’s a great decision,” he said. “The only thing I would say to them is we really want to make sure it’s the nonprofit board making the decisions.”

He added that CHR should be there for guidance, but the governance decisions should remain in the board’s hands.

Some members of the public again attended the meeting Tuesday to voice concerns about the transfer and the process.

Brenda Black, of Halfmoon Township, said she worked to collect more than 175 signatures of community members opposed to the transfer. She said the public would like assurances that the nonprofit board meetings will be open and a written guarantee that the number of Medicaid beds will stay on par to provide a safety net for the community.

Centre Care board members said they haven’t decided if the meetings will be public, and CHR representatives have said the Medicaid beds likely won’t decrease and could increase. There has been nothing in writing to guarantee that, but it could be stipulated in a transfer agreement.