By Candace Kelley
Six million dollars. That’s how much money the Catholic Diocese of Camden lost last year in four of their senior facilities like St. Mary’s Catholic Home in Cherry Hill. Staff and residents here just got the news that their facility is for sale. Spokesperson for the diocese Peter Feuerherd says changes in Medicare and Medicaid forced the property into the red.
“Government subsidies to these enterprises across the board have gone down,” Feuerherd said.
As a result, several Diocese properties are on the market, including Our Lady’s MultiCare Center in Pleasantville, the Bishop McCarthy Residence in Vineland and St. Mary’s Catholic Home in Cherry Hill. That includes the Manor at St. Mary’s, a residential health care facility.
“The amount of money that the Diocese gets per patient is not paying for the care. So we have been incurring the loss the nursing homes and Diocese. The end result we can’t afford to keep up that pace of subsidizing the nursing homes,” said Feuerherd.
As facilities like St. Mary’s Catholic Home wait to be purchased, the Camden Diocese is assuring families and seniors who live here that they will be taken care of no matter what happens.
“The Diocese promises that the people who are currently in the nursing homes will be able to stay where they are under the current arrangement that they have. It’s not just only the promise from the Diocese, it is actually the law,” Feuerherd said.
Feurerherd says the government is moving people away from the nursing home model. Meanwhile, the Diocese is prayerful about their plans to use the profits from the sale of the facilities to minister to even more seniors about health care through parish-based community support.
“Nursing people come to parishes and work with older people who have health issues, social programs for the elderly, support respite care things for the squeeze generation, people in the middle who take care of their parents and children,” said Feuerherd.
This community-based approach, he says, will allow the Diocese to reach even more seniors.
“People in nursing homes are a very small number, a percentage of elderly people. Most elderly people are not in nursing homes,” Feuerherd said.
There’s no sign as to when the sale of these facilities could happen, but with 24 hours of the announcement of the sale, several potential buyers called.