Country Meadows of Forks in West Easton, Pa., hosted Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) recently, where leaders from the Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association (PALA) and other stakeholders joined the lawmaker in a discussion and tour as part of an education and outreach initiative.
Patti Ackell, administrator, Country Meadows of Forks, led the tour of the community, which consists of independent living, assisted living, and memory care.
As for the discussion, Margie Zelenak, PALA executive director, said the issues discussed with Wild included personal care vs. assisted living in Pennsylvania and the fact there has been no Medicaid funding in the state for assisted living for 15 years and counting.
Home is not always the right place to offer care, but Pennsylvania has no care option between home and a nursing home, she said.
Zelenak said other topics discussed were the ongoing workforce crisis, which has seen assisted living face stiff competition from other healthcare and retail outlets paying higher wages. Other problems that are affecting the recruiting and retention of workers are childcare costs and the fact staff would like to work more but could lose their own social benefits because of increased income.
Wild was interested in hearing about the staffing issues and the barriers the community is facing, and the threat to communities across the state facing closure or reduced occupancy because of the lack of workers, she said.
Participants also engaged with the lawmaker on funding concerns, Argentum’s Senior Act legislation pending on Congress, and low reimbursement rates, among other issues.
Zelenak said Wild was also thanked by the group for her membership in the newly formed 21st Century Long Term Care Caucus in Congress.
Bill D’Andrea, vice president of operations, Country Meadows Retirement Communities, Keith Pemrick, Commonwealth Strategic Partners, and Country Meadows department managers also joined in the event.