January 14th, 2012 9:14 AM by Ginger Turner
City of Alpine & Chamber of Commerce
Unite to Bring Back Nursing Home Care
Texas District 23 Director for Congressman Francisco Canseco will attend.
ALPINE, TEXAS--"We had no idea anything was wrong," says Alpine City Council member Diana Asgeirsson. " Early Monday morning I got phone calls from women crying saying the owners of Alpine Valley Care Nursing Home came into the building and told everyone to clear out by Monday. 'You no longer have a job,' they said. Others called asking me what to do because their parents were being evicted by Friday." I had no idea what happened, but I began making calls immediately.
Asgeirsson was not the only City Council member to receive hysterical calls Monday morning. In response to those calls Alpine's City Council will meet at 6 PM Tuesday, Jan. 17th, in City Hall, 101 N. 13th St., Alpine, TX 79830. "Anyone who has any ideas on how we can have a nursing home back in Alpine is welcome to come and make recommendations," says Asgeirsson.
James Ross Smith, known in Alpine as J.R., says, "We have a very serious problem in our community if we don't have a nursing home." J.R. Smith is Manager of Alpine's Chamber of Commerce. "Until last Monday, when MSC pulled out its nursing home, we were a certified retirement community in Texas and the nation. Without a nursing home we lose that accreditation." Alpine, Texas, with a zero crime rate and annual average daily temperature 70 degrees, has been named by such distinguished news organizations as the Wall Street Journal as the ideal retirement community in America. "At the moment we can no longer make this claim," says Smith.
MSC officials from Lubbock,TX entered their Alpine Valley Care Nursing Home early Monday morning telling 45 employees and 29 residents, "We're out of money. We're shutting down operations Friday." By Friday (tonight) only a handful of residents remained in the building. Most of the employees are out looking for new jobs and applying for unemployment benefits, as MSC told them to do. The nursing home residents, some bedridden, some with dementia and Alzheimer's, and most all confined to wheelchairs, were hurriedly placed in vans and trucks and driven to other far away Texas nursing homes. The nearest one was 67 miles in Ft. Stockton. "Many were sobbing and crying as they were carried out the door," described an employee of the Nursing Home. "They were begging us not to go."
"We don't know what our City can do at this point," says Ms. Asgeirsson, "because MSC is a private business run as a non-profit for the Missionary Baptist Association. "But I can tell you this, not once....to my knowledge.....did anyone ever from MSC come to City Hall and express any kind of financial problem. We were totally caught off guard by their decision to shut down Alpine Valley Care. We certainly would have wanted to know when something of this magnitude was about to happen in our city. We could have held a similar meeting long ago if we'd known anything was wrong. We just did not know."
One citizen commented, "We should let MSC stay in Alpine tax free. That might help." But the response was, "They were exempt from local taxes. That's the first thing I checked. They were paying no taxes at all. That's how the city was helping our seniors and invalids who lived there."
J.R. Smith, speaking from his Chamber of Commerce office in Alpine on Friday said, "The citizens of Brewster County are not the only ones hurt by this event. We are told we cannot qualify for various nursing home government assistance programs because our population is too small....barely 5000 citizens. What they don't realize is we actually represent three different counties with almost 10,000 citizens. We desperately need a nursing home. We want to discuss different ways on how to make this happen at the City Council's meeting on Tuesday. It is very important for us."
Texas U.S. District 23 Congressman Francisco Canseco became aware of the nursing home upheaval in Alpine on that same day, last Monday. The following morning his office began investigating what had happened and is working now to help resolve this hurtful event in Alpine. His District 23 Director Michael Koerner, based in San Antonio, will attend the Alpine City Council meeting on Tuesday.
Anyone impacted by the unexpected closing of Alpine Valley Care Nursing Home is invited to attend the City Council meeting at 6 PM Tuesday to offer suggestions on how Alpine can recoup this critical loss. Not only are former residents and employees of the center adversely impacted, but local businesses that provide goods and services for the home, for its employees and residents are adversely impacted too. So are local doctors, the hospital, workers who process medical and disability claims, Sul Ross University students who study medicine, flower shops, bakeries, churches and utility companies.... just to name just a few of the impacted entities.
"All of us are hurt professionally and financially when Alpine can no longer claim it is a certified retirement community in America. Tuesday's meeting will be very important for our town. We need to unite with each other now, not only to protect our seniors and invalids, but to protect our business community as well," says J.R. Smith.