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Article published November 21, 2013
Steven L. Hively Cranberry Township
There has been so much false information being spread about Sunnyview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center that it is time for the taxpayers to look at facts, not the rhetoric from disgruntled employees at the home and one commissioner’s untruths. Sunnyview currently serves 220 nursing home residents with 290 county-paid employees. Sunnyview’s employees surprisingly account for one-third of Butler County government’s total work force. There are 12 other privately owned and successful nursing homes in Butler County. Those homes also accept Medicaid and Medicare patients, just like Sunnyview. Census figures reveal there are 50,830 Butler County taxpayers over the age of 55 and 37,526 over the age of 60. Yes, there is an aging population — and the taxpayers are to pay $1 million or more annually to supplement only 220 elderly residents at Sunnyview. What about future needs as the elderly population expands in Butler County? Obviously Sunnyview’s role has greatly diminished over the years. Many counties in Pennsylvania have already seen the move to private nursing homes, the out-of-control losses in running a taxpayer-supported facility — and have sold their homes to the private sector. Those sales have resulted in the retention of a quality facility. The fear-mongering currently bombarding the residents of Sunnyview is shameful. The RFP (request for proposals) provided to potential buyers puts many requirements into the sale to protect both patients and employees. Money from state and federal sources will continue to be reduced in the future and county taxpayers should not be saddled with one small nursing home that shows continued and substantial annual financial losses. All sources are facing restraints. Even County Commissioner Jim Eckstein pledged to personally donate $50,000 to Sunnyview if he was elected in 2011. Eckstein has since donated nothing to Sunnyview. Yet Eckstein sees nothing wrong with county taxpayers paying more and more taxes to supplement the deficit-riddled operation. Taxpayers should ask if a money-losing operation like Sunnyview, serving only 220 patients, in a county with a population of 189,862, is a viable investment of our limited tax dollars? Taxpayers in our county have been saddled with higher taxes because of the millions of dollars lost by the county trying to operate this nursing home. I commend two of the county commissioners, William McCarrier and Dale Pinkerton for bringing their decades of business experience to address this issue and to preserve Sunnyview’s future while also protecting taxpayers from the ongoing financial losses. Yes, Butler County is our home.