Home news upsets holidays

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

By Cindee B. Bridges

For the Salisbury Post

As a parent of one of the 33 residents of Rowan Homes, I am very upset and concerned that the issue of money will affect the quality of our homes. We are all family at Rowan Homes, and it tears at my heart to see the residents and families so upset.

On Dec. 13, Cynthia Benjamin, developmental disabilities provider relations manager, and Erin Nance, quality management coordinator of Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare, went to our local vocational workshop and Shoe Show where our residents work or spend the day. One at a time, they took several residents into a room to tell them that they were changing the provider for Rowan Homes, Inc. They did this without contacting family members or staff from Rowan Homes. The residents came back crying, confused and very upset. The family members and staff had no idea why or what to say to our residents.

Even though the staff members of Rowan Homes, Inc. knew nothing of the meetings taking place at the Vocational Workshop by PBH, the staff reassured the residents that their best interest was all that Rowan Homes, Inc. cared about.

Once Rowan Homes, Inc. read the letters given to the clients, they met with all the residents, with their families present, and explained the letter to them. Residents repeated they wanted all of the staff to stay, with no one replaced or fired. Staff at no time emotionally swayed residents to side with Rowan Homes, Inc. At the meeting, Jay Laurens told residents and parents that if they wanted his resignation he would write it out immediately. Residents assured him they did not want him to leave.

Now you may say “these residents do not understand because they are mentally challenged.” They completely understand that Jay’s door is always open for them to drop in and talk to him anytime they want to, and he is always looking out for their best interest.

Rowan Homes, Inc. has provided excellent care for over 30 years in our community; it is locally owned and has locally grown. The residents want it to continue. Also, if a new provider, most likely from another county, were to take its place, no one’s job will be secure. The new provider will decide what staff members will stay and what benefits they will receive. Rowan Homes, with over 22 employees, could be just like other companies in Rowan County where people have lost their jobs at a time when jobs are hard to find.

I ask the community to help us take a stand and let PBH know we want Rowan Homes, Inc. to continue serving the 33 residents that reside under their excellent care. The board of directors for PBH who represent Rowan County, as listed on the PBH Web site, includes Arnold Chamberlain, commissioner; Willi Beilfuss; David N. Joslin; and John P. Burke. Please let them know what you think.

* * *

Cindee B. Bridges lives in Salisbury