COAL TOWNSHIP - The planned layoff of 23 housekeeping and laundry service employees at Mountain View: A Nursing and Rehabilitation Center came as a shock to one longtime worker, who is still trying to absorb the upsetting turn of events.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous because the last day of employment isn't until Dec. 17, said Monday afternoon that her two children won't have the Christmas they were expecting.

"I don't know if I'll be able to get them what they wanted. Cash flow is going to be tight," she said, noting she is the primary job-holder in the family.

A press release from the 271-bed nursing center Monday revealed that declining Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements have caused officials to look for new ways to cut expenses without impacting resident care. It's a trend among nursing facilities nationwide, the release states.

According to the release, there is currently an additional 2 percent reduction in Medicare payments scheduled to be implemented on Jan. 1.

According to a recent study cited in the press release, Medicaid payments to skilled-nursing facilities are under funded by $26.26 per day.

Outside contractor

Mountain View has contracted with Healthcare Services Group, based in Bensalem, which has been providing environmental services to hospitals, skilled facilities and senior living clients for 36 years, the release says.

Staff affected by the decision will have the opportunity to apply for open positions within the facility and interview with the new provider.

Word of the layoffs spread through the community at the end of last week, but Complete Healthcare Resources (CHR), which owns the facility, said it would issue details in the release on Monday.

Searching for new job

The mother who spoke to The News-Item said she is already searching for another job, and will decide closer to Dec. 17 whether she will apply to stay at Mountain View with the new provider.

She said neither she nor any other employees had any idea the center was facing financial difficulty, and there were no discussions with the union to negotiate lower benefit packages.

If the decision had been discussed ahead of time, she might have been able to prepare for the holiday season, she said.

"I need a full-time job. If I can find something beforehand (Dec. 17), I'll take it," she said.

Most of the employees were told during a meeting last Thursday, and those not on duty were called.

CHR took over Mountain View in 2010 after purchasing the facility from Northumberland County, which had operated what was then called Mountain View Manor for decades before citing financial difficulties in getting out of the health care business.

Bruce Kimball, administrator at Mountain View, said Monday afternoon there would be no further comment or additional details beyond the information in the press release.