Northampton County's McClure desires to spend $15M, go 'all in' to save lots of Gracedale

EASTON, Pa. – Northampton County’s Gracedale Nursing House is in danger, County Government Lamont McClure mentioned Thursday, and he desires to spend $15 million to put it aside.

That will take up half of the county’s $30 million share of 2022 American Rescue Plan cash. ARP is a federal plan to offer native governments cash for COVID-19 pandemic restoration. He introduced the plan at Thursday’s county council assembly.

McClure used a playing time period, asking that “We push our chips all within the center” and go “all in” to save lots of Gracedale. The manager can suggest spending, however county council should approve it.

“It will likely be my proposal that we spend $12 million to handle nursing prices,” McClure mentioned.

A employees scarcity has plagued the house. He additionally desires to spend $2 million for an on-site daycare heart to assist retain staff and $1 million on capital tasks on the Higher Nazareth Township facility.

The house’s capability is 688 residents, however due to employees shortages, Gracedale has restricted admissions and is about two-thirds full.

McClure mentioned the 2 threats to Gracedale come from the state and federal authorities. Pennsylvania could elevate the variety of nursing hours per affected person per day to 4.1, up from the present 2.7 hours that Gracedale just isn’t assembly now.

In the meantime, the federal authorities could require that solely two residents be saved in a room. Gracedale has some four-bed rooms and McClure mentioned one tower of the house can be out of date if that change had been made.

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“Gracedale has been saved earlier than and it may be saved once more,” McClure mentioned. Later he added, “If it may be saved, we’ll put it aside and I am going all in to do it.”

County officers have mentioned that Gracedale has not been in a position to compete with the salaries paid by hospitals. Some hospitals have supplied sign-on bonuses of as a lot as $30,000 to nurses.

Gracedale additionally misplaced staff who refused to be vaccinated towards COVID-19. The county needed to implement a federal vaccine mandate for its employees or lose thousands and thousands of {dollars} of funding.

McClure didn’t current a plan Thursday for all of the federal COVID cash. Up to now, some has been utilized by the county, some allotted to native governments and nonprofit teams, and $25 million was put aside for grants to small companies. The county obtained cash from the CARES Act beneath former President Donald Trump, and ARP, signed into regulation by President Joseph Biden.

Later in the course of the assembly, Commissioner Ron Heckman mentioned he helps McClure’s plan to make use of ARP cash on the nursing house. Commissioner Kerry Myers agreed: “I am very blissful to listen to what Mr. McClure’s plans are.”

Council voted to go ahead with two research that McClure has objected to beforehand. The primary can be a evaluation of Gracedale’s operations by an impartial firm. That research, if it proceeds, will evaluation morale, income and bills, and supply a plan for council for the house’s short-term and long-term future.

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The second vote was for a pay research, evaluating salaries of county staff to related counties and regional organizations, together with scrutiny of wages and advantages for comparable positions.

Each research had been authorised 8-0, with John Cusick, Council President Lori Vargo Heffner, John Brown, Thomas Giovanni, John Goffredo, Heckman, Kevin Lott and Myers in favor. Tara Zrinski was absent.

Council additionally authorised a $3,000 sign-on bonus, to be paid over six months, to staff of the county’s juvenile detention heart. The purpose is to herald new staff at a middle that’s wanting employees. The bonuses can be paid from the juvenile justice heart’s present funds. Courtroom Administrator Jermaine Greene Sr. mentioned the county is brief 33 employees.

Council and McClure spent the primary 20 minutes of the assembly giving proclamations to native athletes.