News Local/State

Champaign County Board Grapples With Nursing Home Problems

Champaign County Board Member Kyle Patterson.

Champaign County Board member Kyle Patterson (D-Champaign) addresses a rally held across from the county nursing home, prior to Tuesday night's County Board Committee of the Whole meeting. Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

The Champaign County Board discussed the future of its financially troubled county nursing home Tuesday night, one week after voters rejected a county tax hike for the facility, but gave permission for its possible sale. 

At a rally before the meeting, County Board member Kyle Patterson fired up nursing home supporters, asking them to put pressure on his fellow Democrats to stay united against a sale.

“Every single district represented by a Democrat supported a tax hike and opposed the sale of the nursing home, so every single Democrat in there needs to know that, and they need to know that our seniors are not for sale,” Patterson said to applause from the crowd of about 30 people.

But once county board discussion of the nursing home got underway, talk of how the county could keep the facility was muted. Instead, county officials discussed the home’s many financial problems, ones that seem insurmountable now that a tax increase has been ruled out.

Champaign County Treasurer Dan Welch says the county nursing home owes its vendors $2.9 million, and is owed $1.1 million by the state in the form of tardy Medicaid payments.

The nursing home is currently waiting on the state to process Medicaid applications for 19 residents. Delays in processing those applications are costing the home $76,000 a month. 

Backers of a sale say it has to happen soon, or else the nursing home’s finances could deteriorate so much that closing the home would be the only option, reducing the county’s overall nursing home capacity, and costing the county millions of dollars.

Champaign County Administrator Rick Snider says he says he plans to start the process that could lead to a nursing home sale, by bringing a proposal to the county for to issue a request for proposals for a broker to handle the sale. Snider says the RFP proposal could be ready in time for the April 20th Champaign County Board meeting.

“I think we have to at least let people know that we’re interested in getting proposals, so we’ll have something to evaluate”, said Snider. “I have no idea whether we’ll actually get any offers from everyone. I assume we will. From what I’ve seen, from what the interest has been, that we will have some proposals. But we need to start that process sooner, rather than later.”

Snider says he also wants to start moving on a possible interim manager for the nursing home. The contract for MPA, the management firm currently running the nursing home, expires this summer, and the company isn’t seeking a renewal.