News Local/State

Champaign County Board Chooses One Firm To Run & One To Broker Potential Sale Of Nursing Home

Champaign County Nursing Home

The Champaign County Nursing Home in Urbana. Scott Cameron/Illinois Public Media

The Champaign County Board is getting ready to hire the same firm to broker a potential sale of its troubled nursing home that brokered the sale of Vermilion County’s nursing home four years ago.  But before any sale occurs, the county board is hiring a new management firm for the facility, one that specializes in turning around nursing homes with problems.

County Board members voted at Tuesday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting to work with Marcus and Millichap for a possible nursing home sale.

County Board Chairman Pius Weibel was among seven Democrats voting against the firm — whose representatives found themselves defending their handling of Vermilion County’s sale of the former Vermilion Manor Nursing Home near Tilton.  Weibel notes the new private owners of that facility have come under fire for health-safety violations and employee layoffs.

“And the representative (of Marcus & Millichap) had said that he thought that the layoffs were due to some remodeling of a wing,” said Weibel. “I don’t think that was true at all, because the layoffs occurred the same day that they took over.”

The layoffs of 39 employees by new owners FNR Healthcare Group upon take possession of what is now Gardenview Manor in 2013 came as a shock to Vermilion County official. Earlier this year, Gardenview Manor was fined by the state for alleged violations involving resident deaths. Democrats on the Champaign County Board have cited such violations as reasons for the Champaign County Nursing Home to stay in the county’s hands.

But now that a brokerage firm has been chosen, Weibel says he might vote to approve a formal contract with Marcus and Millichap when it comes up in a few weeks. He says the county may simply not be able to afford the nursing home any longer, unless state government improves in delivering Medicaid payments and processing the Medicaid applications of nursing home residents.

Even with a firm to search for a buyer, it will take a 15-vote super-majority for any actual sale of the nursing home to be approved by the Champaign County Board.

Meanwhile, county board members voted unanimously Tuesday night to hire a firm to manage the Champaign County Nursing Home starting July 1. That when Management Performance Associates’ longtime contract with the county runs out.

The county’s new choice to operate the nursing home Northfield-based SAK Management Services, a firm that specializes in turning around “distressed” long-term healthcare facilities.

County Administrator Rick Snider says SAK impressed an evaluation committee with their plans for improving the nursing home’s finances.

“SAK had proposed plans for improved marketing of the home,” said Snider. “(It would) be much more aggressive in showing people the services that are available at Champaign County Nursing home, and help improve the census (the number of people staying at the nursing home). Census goes directly to the bottom line. If the more patients we have, the more financials will improve.”

The Champaign County Board will take a final vote on hiring SAK at the June 23 regular meeting. The county’s contract with the firm will be an open-ended one, in case the county board approves a potential buyer to take over the facility. But doing so will require a supermajority vote from at least 15 of the Champaign County Board’s 22 members.