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Review for Cornerstone Montgomery, Inc., Bethesda, MD, USA

Rating: 2 stars  

After looking at the reviews I am very surprised by some of the high rating. I have a relative that is involved in one of their housing and support programs. On the plus side, the program has been helpful in keeping my relative on the medication that needs to be taken and providing support during occassional relapses and their consequences. While my relative does live a somewhat independent life, the housing situation has not always been positive. While the program claims to provide room and board in exchange for taking virtually all of ones available income, the bare mininum is provided in terms of broken down and worn out furniture and carpets and board (food, toiletries, and house cleaning materials) are expected to be provide by tenants with little monthly income left by going to Humana, a food pantry. Clients are expected to find their own way to these food pantries unless they have a nice and compasionate counselor that will take them. Living allowances inadequate and I am sure below poverty level. There seems to be a high turn staff turn over in staff, ie. counselors (leaving in less than year) thus making it difficult to establish trust and close relationships between counselors and clients. In the program that my relative is in, one client died of a health condition, that worsened over weeks in front of her counselors. This is neglect.
One staff person told my relative that this is a "mental health" program not a program to take care non mental medical conditions. Like many organizations that get State and Federal funding, Cornerstone needs more oversight and monitoring. Clients in this program still need someone that advocates for them and ensure that support is adequate, staff are atisfied with their working environment and workload so they don't take it out on the clients. When my relative complained about some of the services or behavior of other clients, some of the staff said my relative didn't have to stay and could find some where else to go. I think Cornerstone needs to do more than just warehousing some of their clients, pay their staff decent salaries and provide better working conditions and workload. The Cornerstone CEO should go visit some of the clients in their housing so she can see the conditions of the furniture and filthy carpets that I am sure are unhealthy.

Role:  General Member of the Public

Thank you for taking the time to write a review about your experiences with Cornerstone Montgomery. We appreciate your feedback and want you to know we take your concerns seriously. We are glad your family member is progressing in the program and that s/he is living as independently as possible. We understand your questions about the fee structure and wanted to review how these decisions are made in the hope that you have a better understanding of what those fees cover. Similar to other programs in the state, the fees cover more than room and board, they cover the cost of providing trained staff for support and case management as well. These fee structures are set by a state formula and not established by Cornerstone Montgomery. Depending on the intensity of the program, additional supports are provided and can include group meals. As each client’s level of independence increases, the support from staff decreases which supports a more successful transition to independent living. Staff do encourage the use of community resources such as Manna and Nourish Now and depending on each clients’ level of independence some transportation assistance is provided. The turnover rates you describe are an unfortunate trend in this line of work and we are actively working to address this as we are acutely aware of the impact of turnover on the individuals in our care. While we are unable to speak to specific cases, we can assure you that we monitor each client and take their health and safety very seriously. In fact we established health homes which are staffed by medical professionals to help manage very complex medical issues. Through a partnership with CCI Health and Wellness, we have collocated primary health and dental services in one of our sites with plans to add a second when we open our new HUB center at the end of this year. While it is true that we are primarily trained in mental health, we have an expectation that staff are familiar with many of the common somatic health issues our clients experience and we have nurses on staff as part of health homes to help manage and coordinate medical care/concerns. We cannot treat these ourselves, but we maintain close contact with primary care providers – again the level of support in the program will determine how “hands on” a staff member can be with a client – however all staff are expected to help clients coordinate medical care. If this continues to be a concern for your family member, please let us know so we can look into it. In terms of oversight and regulations, we are regulated at the local and state levels – all sites are licensed and regulated (receiving health and safety inspections at the local and state level). Cleanliness is an ongoing challenge and staff are regularly working with clients to improve these skills. Sometimes more serious assistance is needed, so if we hear or see that a residence is in bad shape we want to address it as soon as possible. Additionally, consumer advocate groups conduct regular and unscheduled site visits to talk with clients about their experiences in the program. We get that feedback and use it to adjust our programs and services when appropriate and possible. We hope this helps to address some of your concerns, if you would like to discuss any of these further, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at: Thank you.