Plans for nursing homes proceed despite lawsuit Mount Airy competitor fights Lorien approval

May 21, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

An Ellicott City nursing home operator will go ahead with plans to build nursing homes and assisted-living apartments in Taneytown and Mount Airy, despite a competitor's pending lawsuit.

It could be nine months before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals hears the case involving Lorien Home Health Care Inc., which plans to build a 63-bed nursing home in Taneytown and a 62-bed home in Mount Airy.

Attorney James Forsyth said Lorien plans to break ground on the Mount Airy facility this summer.

"It makes it a very risky proposition, but we're committed to Taneytown and Mount Airy, and we're going forward," Forsyth said.

"They're just trying to delay it," he added, referring to the suit filed by Pleasant View Nursing Home of Mount Airy Inc.

Pleasant View filed an appeal Tuesday that asks the Court of Special Appeals to order Lorien to start over the process of obtaining certificates for the nursing home beds.

'Delay has an impact'

The communities in northwestern and southwestern Carroll have been looking forward to the facilities, which will include assisted-living apartments, and the mayors of both towns report inquiries from interested senior citizens.

"Any time you have a delay it definitely has an impact, because we're about a year behind where we thought we should be because of the lawsuit," Mount Airy Mayor Gerald R. Johnson said.

Taneytown Mayor W. Robert Flickinger said, "Some of our people here needed assisted living and had to go out of the community to get it."

Pleasant View's appeal asks the appeals court to overturn a decision in Baltimore Circuit Court two weeks ago.

Judge Kathleen O'Ferrall Friedman ruled that the Maryland Health Resources Planning Commission acted properly when it allowed Lorien to split its authorization -- from a 125-bed nursing home in Taneytown -- between two facilities in Taneytown and Mount Airy.

Not required

The judge said the commission was not legally required to make Lorien start the process over with a new application.

The company decided to build two smaller nursing homes because of an opportunity to locate in Mount Airy's Wildwood Park, a retirement community. The village will include a nursing home, independent housing and assisted-living units.

Pleasant View's lawyers argue that splitting the allocation cut off their chance to oppose the Mount Airy facility.

Pleasant View, a 26-year-old nursing home in the 4100 block of Baltimore National Pike, has 105 beds. It reported $3.5 million in revenue last year.

Jack Tranter, a lawyer for Pleasant View, said the nursing home didn't oppose Lorien's original plan to build 125 beds in Taneytown because it was at the opposite end of the county.

At least 45 percent of the patients at the 62-bed home in Mount Airy are expected to be Medicaid patients, Tranter said, and this would compete directly with Pleasant View, which also accepts Medicaid patients.

The nursing homes will compete for patients and staff; both need registered nurses and certified nursing assistants, he said.

"That is a lot of nursing home beds in a small area," he said. "It's not like you're building in Baltimore City. There are only so many [staff] people to go around."

Taneytown plans

Eighty-four assisted-living units also are planned at the Mount Airy site. In the fall, work will begin in Taneytown on a 199-unit apartment complex with 84 assisted-living units.

The state does not limit numbers of assisted-living apartments. But nursing home operators are required to obtain certificates of need from the Maryland Health Resources Planning Commission before beginning construction.

Forsyth said he has made "repeated overtures to have [Pleasant View officials] sit down and talk with us."

Its representatives have not been interested in reaching a settlement out of court, he said.

Pub Date: 5/21/98

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