News Local/State

Champaign County Board Votes To Sell County Nursing Home

More than 100 people came to the Champaign County Board Room at the Brookens Center in Urbana Tuesday evening.

More than 100 people came to the Champaign County Board Room at the Brookens Center in Urbana Tuesday evening. Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

With more than 100 people looking on, the Champaign County Board voted 15 to 6 Thursday night to sell the financially strapped county nursing home.

The buyers are Altitude Health Services and Extended Care Clinical LLC, two Evanston-based companies linked to the Rothner family, who own several nursing homes in the Chicago area and elsewhere.

All ten Republicans on the Champaign County Board voted to sell the Nursing Home, along with five Democrats, including County Board Chairman Pius Weibel.

 “It’s a hard vote to make”, said Weibel. “Obviously I’ve been dealing with the nursing home situation for quite a few years. And we see the same problems coming up, and same ideas, and we’re still in the same position. So I think it’s just time, time to move in a different direction.”

Opponents of the sale point to what they say is a troubled track record for nursing homes run by the Rothner family, including Eric Rothner and his son, William “Avi” Rothner. Chief among the accusers is the group Champaign County Health Care Consumers and its executive director, Claudia Lennhoff.

Lennhoff’s group claims that many Rothner nursing homes have bad safety records, and two of them, one each in Illinois and Indiana, were shut down by state authorities.

“I feel like the county board just made a huge mistake”, said Lennhoff following the vote. “And that unfortunately, county residents probably for years to come, are going to pay the price for that. And when you pay the price for diminished quality of care, that means that people suffer.”

But Altitude Health Services and Extended Care will pay $11 million for the Champaign County Nursing Home. And they’ve agreed to keep half of its beds open to Medicaid patients for the next few years, and to rehire current nursing home employees who pass a background check.

Supporters of the  nursing home sale hailed the Champaign County Board’s vote Thursday night in muted terms. The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce said  in a statement that while it supports the vote to sell the nursing home, “it is a decision that should note be celebrated --- as it is the best outcome from a very bad financial situation.”

And Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten, who is the Republican candidate for County Executive this year, stated that “Tonight is not a night for celebration, but a night to reassess the priorities of County government and refocus on providing essential services as efficiently as possible to the people we serve together.”

The date for the new owners to take possession of the Champaign County Nursing Home is August First, after both sides perform due diligence.