County Council public hearing promotes spirit

As I get older, money becomes an increasingly bigger part of my life. As much as I would like to maintain the mantra that money is arbitrary, the sad fact of the matter dictates that it is an integral part in leading a comfortable life. What about the people who don’t have any?

Theresa Pfister, a&l editor

Monday evening, I attended my first Erie County public hearing at the Blasco Library. I went to support my mom, who would be speaking to County Council on behalf of Pleasant Ridge Manor, Erie’s only county-owned nursing facility. The hearing was held for members of Erie County to voice their opinions on whether they believe Pleasant Ridge Manor should be renovated and combined into one facility or completely shut down, an unfortunate option that some people in our area choose to support.

My mom has been the director of social services and community relations at the facility for more than 15 years, and employed there more than 20, but I was not prepared to witness just how much of an impact Pleasant Ridge Manor has on members of our community.

The facility has been serving Erie residents for the past 85 years and has two locations, one on the east side of town, and one on the west. Together, it is home to more than 300 residents and employs more than 400 people. If the facility is forced to close, within a year, more than 400 people in Erie County would be without a job and over 300 residents would be without a home. Plus, thousands of people would be ashamed of their elected officials for not serving the “the greater public good, while assuring that our most vulnerable citizens continue to get the long-term nursing care they need,” as stated they would do in County Council’s Report of the Pleasant Ridge Manor Study Committee November 2010. Like my mom, many of Pleasant Ridge Manor’s employees have worked there for decades, just one example of the commitment and dedication that runs deep through the facility’s history.

I have to question why some Erie County residents would rather see their tax dollars feed hundreds of unnecessary, avoidable unemployment checks rather than an updated, essential nursing facility that they might have to call home someday.

Maybe compassion would take the place of dollar signs in their minds if they heard the power and sincerity in the words of four Pleasant Ridge Manor residents who made an incredible effort to go to the hearing and speak the best they could about how much their home means to them. One 79-year-old resident told us what I guess few residents in other nursing facilities could truly say, and that is that she felt loved at Pleasant Ridge.

 I know the power in her short sentence silently broke everyone in the room’s hearts, and for all the right reasons. The quality of care at Pleasant Ridge Manor is unmatched in our area, staff members genuinely care about their residents and embrace the value in their jobs, from dishwashing, physical therapy to nursing assistants. They really have it all figured out.

An elixir to life does not exist, but the passion, concern, pride and love that filled the room Monday night came strikingly close to one. A raw sense of community flooded the room, and we doused ourselves with it through standing ovations, smiles and pure emotion. Hopefully this fragrance isn’t fleeting on April 27, at the next Pleasant Ridge County Council public hearing.

THERESA PFISTER

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