Lehigh Valley

Cedarbrook nursing home celebrates 175th anniversary as number of county-owned homes decline

First built on farm land in 1844, Lehigh County-owned Cedarbrook Senior Care and Rehab Center has been a safety net for those like Jean Larison.

"When I was in the hospital and had to go to rehab there was no question of where I was going to go," she said.

Inside a renovated auditorium the former employee turned resident helped to celebrate Cedarbrook's 175th anniversary.

"What these places are are communities," said Cedarbrook Administrator Jason Cumello.

Recently the county approved a $47-million expansion.

It's an increasingly unique county gift in Pennsylvania, said Kelly Andrisano, Executive Director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

"Not a lot of nursing homes investing in that kind of funding to make improvements or expansions because they don't have it," she said.

Places like Cedarbrook could become a thing of the past. The number of county-owned nursing homes was 37 10 years ago. It's now down to 20, and only 17 counties have them.

Andrisano says they're underfunded. Medicaid pays for 90% of residents but Medicaid reimbursements have been flat for a decade.

"Big solution would be additional funding," she said.

Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong says he's working on it.

"We are now forming a coalition with other county-run homes in trying to use political pressure on elected officials," he said.

Pressure worth celebrating for those like Larison.

"Cedarbrook feels like home," Larison said.

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