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“Next hearing to involve residents’ comments”

The debate continues over whether or not Rolling Hills can be utilized as a long-term mental health facility.  With the closure of Mayview days away, the debate continues, which means that 15 patients currently at Mayview along with staff will be housed temoporarily on mayview grounds until other arrangements can be made for them.  I found this article in the December 25, 2008 posting at “YourSouthhills.com” a link to the original article can be found at the end of the article.

Next hearing to involve residents’ comments

Created Dec 25 2008 – 3:06am

Baldwin Township residents will have their turn to speak regarding plans for a proposed mental health facility to enter their neighborhood at a meeting next month.

At the second of three public hearings, which was held last week, Mercy Behavioral Health officials finished their line of questioning for several witnesses regarding a conditional use application to place a mental health facility into the former Rolling Hills Manor site along Newport Drive.

The facility would include a long-term structured residence and an extended acute care program.

Now that Mercy officials have finished presenting their case, it is time for those opposed to the facility to offer their testimony, township solicitor Thomas McDermott said.

A date has not been set for the third and final public hearing on the proposed facility, but must be scheduled within 45 days of the Dec. 18 meeting. Township commissioners will set the hearing date and time at their next board meeting.

Township commissioners will then have an additional 45 days to render a decision on the conditional use application.

Mercy’s final push last week included testimony from Mary Jeanne Serafin, chief executive officer of Mayview State Hospital, and Larry Bodnar, real estate appraiser.

In front of about 100 residents at the Castle Shannon Fire Hall, Serafin explained to the commissioners the similarities and differences of a long-term structured residence from a state hospital and why there is a need for such a facility.

Mayview State Hospital, she said, is set to close on Monday. Some of the patients and staff from the hospital will move to the Baldwin Township facility, if permission for its opening is granted.

Until then, she said after the meeting, the patients and staff who were scheduled to move to the facility will stay on the grounds of Mayview in a temporary long-term structured residence.

Serafin also explained the differences between regulations for what is required in a long-term structured residence and a nursing home, which is type of facility that Mercy officials placed on the application.

“There are similarities,” she said. “A doctor is a doctor. A doctor in psychiatry has a different specialty than an orthopedic, nevertheless, they’re the same doctor.”

It is the same for a long-term structured residence and a nursing home, she said.

But she agreed with McDermott’s questioning that both facilities are regulated under two, separate guidelines.

“However, when you look at the content of the regulations (there are) many similarities,” she said.

But McDermott questioned if there would be similarities in regulations for all types of facilities, because it is human nature to need certain items like food and shelter.

Bodnar’s testimony addressed some concerns that residents had previously raised that with the new facility, the values of their homes would decline.

“It is my opinion that the proposed location of Mercy Behavioral Health will have no negative effect on single-family dwellings,” he said.

The appraiser, hired by Mercy, showed figures from three facilities that he said had a “stigma” or a “fear of the unknown” regarding a “similar” facility entering into a neighborhood.

Bodnar said the neighborhoods of the facilities that he looked at showed only positive increases in real estate sales following a mental health facility moving into the communities.

But John Arminas, a lawyer hired by several township residents, questioned how the facilities Bodnar compared were similar, when one of them was a “small, residential” house, compared to a facility for 32 people.

Bodnar said he had a reason for choose the sites to compare to the Baldwin Township facility.

“I had certain data that I could work with and this is what I could work with,” he said.

his real estate study.

Bodnar also struggled to answer other questions about the proposed Mercy site or the other sites he compared it to — answering, “I don’t know,” to several questions posed by Arminas and McDermott.

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