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Commissioners nix plan to fund move of ManorCare patients

Lycoming County commissioners rejected a request to help fund a plan to move patients from a nursing care facility where a number of personnel and patients have been infected by the coronavirus.

The vote was 2-1 against providing $250,000 in county funding to support the plan involving transitioning ManorCare Jersey Shore patients to a hotel.

Commissioners Tony Mussare and Scott Metzger voted against the funding.

Commissioner Rick Mirabito voted in favor.

Mirabito said he could not understand his colleagues failing to support the plan when county dollars are used for other purposes such as the White Deer Golf Course.

He noted that the issue was not just about ManorCare, where a number of residents there infected with COVID-19, have died.

“It’s an example of what can happen in congregate living,” he said.

He noted that the county earlier this year agreed to move some inmates from out of the prison to lessen the chances of any infection spreading there.

“It comes down to all of us making choices about how we are going to spend public money,” he said.

Commissioners had been approached by the Center for Independent Living North Central Pennsylvania to allocate funding to offset care for patients. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was to provide money for hotel costs and meals with the Williamsport-based Liberty Group covering any shortfall to ensure the plan.

The county was to be reimbursed its allocation.

Metzger said he spent a lot of time researching the issue and could not support the plan.

As he stated previously during public meetings, he said he heard from no ManorCare residents or their family members with requests to be transferred from the nursing home.

He noted that state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Pennsdale, intervened at one point and contacted the state Department of Health officials about the issue.

“It’s unfortunate that people have passed away from this disease. No one wants this,” he said. “But I feel it is not the commissioners’ responsibility to allocate funding for people who have not even asked to be moved.”

Metzger said there is no longer “a crisis” at ManorCare.

No resident, he repeated, has asked to be moved from the nursing home.

Mirabito responded that too often families don’t know their rights.

“There is a crisis going on,” he said.

Mirabito said businesses everywhere have received millions of dollars of funding.

When a flood or other emergency occurs, government officials don’t think twice about allocating money to help them, he added.

Mirabito pointed to past funding given to the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.

“We don’t even know where that money goes,” he said.

Commissioner Tony Mussare said it was not the role of the county to put money into health care.

Center for Independent Living CEO Misty Dion said congregate living situations such as exists at ManorCare don’t provide safe distancing.

“I hope you will consider helping us save lives,” she said.

Craig Allen, of Watson Township, said he was opposed to commissioners using county funds to move patients.

He noted his mother is a resident of ManorCare and does not want to leave the the nursing home.

Mirabito said his fellow commissioners should have taken more of a leadership role on the issue.

“Shame on them,” he said. “They washed their hands of the problem.”

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