BEAVER (KDKA) — At the Beaver County Commissioner’s meeting there were tears from those with loved ones at Friendship Ridge nursing home.

“My husband can’t speak, so I have to speak for him,” said one woman in attendance. “I live in the neighborhood, I can go everyday by bus to see him. If you take it away I won’t be able to see him.”

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And there were pleas from others who fear losing their job.

“If it wasn’t for Friendship Ridge, I don’t know how I would have made it,” one employee said. “I got laid off from a previous job, thanks to Friendship Ridge hiring me; I am able to take care of my family.”

Back in December, Beaver County commissioners asked the 500 union workers at Friendship Ridge to come up with a plan to shave off $5 million from the nursing home’s budget to prevent it from being sold to a private company. The union did just that.

Neal Bisno, of the Service Employees International Union, explained their plan.

“It involves wages, it involves contributions to health care,” said Bisno. “I don’t want to get involved with all the details because it could change the discussions.”

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Tony Amadio, the chair of the Beaver County Commissioners, responded by saying, “Yes, but we had an independent auditor go through the plan and they are saying its much less. So what we have to do tomorrow is try to work out a compromise.”

Meantime, the future of Friendship Ridge is uncertain, but union reps say they “are certain” of what will happen if the nearly 600 bed facility goes private because they have seen it happen in other counties.

“Standards will decline, quality of care will suffer and this community will lose good quality jobs that it desperately needs,” said Bisno.

After the commissioners’ meeting, nearly 50 workers took their fight to the streets in front of the court house where they rallied. Protestors say the county is looking at dollar signs and not the whole picture.

The home has been county-owned since 1955.

So, will Friendship Ridge remain county-owned or will it be sold to a private company? Beaver County commissioners hope to have the answer to that question by the end of March.

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