Earlier letter inaccurate about Pinecrest facility

I am the current chairman of the board of trustees for the Pinecrest Medical Care Facility in Powers. I am responding to a Letter to the Editor printed in the Daily News last week regarding Dickinson County Memorial Hospital and Pinecrest Medical Care Facility.

l would like to correct the many mistakes of fact from the previous letter and express my pride in the staff and management of Pinecrest who provide such quality and compassionate care to the many residents of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties who reside at Pinecrest.

Pinecrest is and always has been owned jointly by Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties. PA 39 of 2014 did nothing to change that ownership. What PA 39 did was replace non-elected state political appointees on the board with locally elected members of the board of commissioners of the three constituent counties. Local control of these important long-term care and rehab services is the hallmark of county MCFs.

That is why it was passed unanimously in both houses of the legislature and signed by the governor — not because legislators were forced to do anything.

The previous Letter to the Editor also stated that Pinecrest “lost the protection” of the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council when PA 39 was passed. That statement is incorrect. The council is an education and advocacy organization for the 34 county medical care facilities in the state of Michigan (see www.mcmcfc.org). The council has no oversight or regulatory role over these facilities, including Pinecrest. Both before the enactment of PA 39 in 2014 and currently, Pinecrest has been and is a member in good standing of the council.

The board and our residents were very fortunate when Darlene Smith agreed to become administrator of Pinecrest in 2014. Darlene had been the director of nursing at Pinecrest for the previous 28 years and has been a licensed nursing home administrator since 2006.

Darlene met or exceeded every state and federal requirement for being appointed a nursing home administrator when she was appointed administrator by the board. Under her leadership, Pinecrest has become and remained a “five star” facility — the highest quality ranking possible for a nursing home in the state of Michigan.

And far from resigning because of concerns for Pinecrest, Darlene is retiring after serving Pinecrest and its residents for 44 years. Her career and accomplishments should be celebrated rather than attacked and criticized.

Following Darlene’s path, the current director of nursing, Nicole Freeland, has agreed to become Pinecrest’s next administrator.

Nicole has more than 12 years of long-term care experience. Darlene has agreed to delay her retirement until Nicole receives her nursing home administrator’s license, which should occur in the next few weeks.

With Nicole’s assentation to administrator, and a strong management team in place, the board is confident that Pinecrest will be in position to continue to serve the residents of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties for many years to come.