May 25, 2018
Last night, the Champaign County Board voted 15 to 6 to sell the Champaign County Nursing Home (CCNH) to the Rothner-owned Extended Care Clinical, LLC and Altitude Health, Inc. companies who put in a joint bid to purchase the CCNH.
There is more work to be done, and the work to protect quality of care and jobs at CCNH will be ongoing. But we will address that later, in the days to come. For now, we just want to express our gratitude to you for your advocacy efforts, and share information about last night’s County Board Meeting.
On behalf of CCHCC, I want to thank all of you for your advocacy work – I thank you for your vigilance, your phone calls and emails to your elected representatives on the County Board, your statements at County Board meetings, and your dedication to protect the CCNH as a community asset that belongs to all of us.
There were about 130 people in attendance at the meeting, and about 20 people spoke during public participation, for and against the sale of CCNH.
Ultimately, it was a heartbreaking outcome.
One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the County’s decision is that people in leadership positions seem to have given up and demonstrated an unwillingness to explore options available to them because “we’ve tried that before and it didn’t work”.
Still, regardless of all the words spoken last night, all the justifications and recriminations, the question at hand was whether or not to sell this particular bidder. And 15 County Board members felt that Rothner is good enough to take over our community asset, the CCNH.
At the bottom of this message, I have pasted in the speech given by AFSCME’s Michael Wilmore last night – a terrible indictment against the Rothners, and something that everyone should read.
Rest assured, there is more work to be done. Stay tuned to CCHCC. Soon we will be discussing next steps and ways that community members can help.
But for now, I leave with media coverage from last night’s meeting, and at the bottom, with Michael Wilmore’s stunning statement.
Champaign County Health Care Consumers
Media Coverage from Last Night’s County Board Meeting
Statement by AFSCME’s Michael Wilmore to the Champaign County Board
In 2010 the Northwest Times reported that Mr. Rothner’s North Lake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, after repeated citations and three consecutive periods of probation, after they were given many months to correct substandard care that put its residents in immediate jeapordy, was ordered closed after federal authorities called it “one of the worst nursing homes in the country”.
In 2016, 5 years after Avi Rothner bought the Pima County Nursing Home, privatizing a public good, the home, Posada del Sol, was denied Medicare and Medicaid payments after repeated serious deficiencies in care. It is worth noting that Amy Fish, who came to speak to you all a few weeks ago with Mr. Rothner touting the virtues of a Nebraska home, worked for Pima County in Arizona at the time of the sale of the Pima County home, facilitating that sale, then shortly thereafter accepting a position in Mr. Rothner’s company, leaving public service and the consequences of that sale behind.
In 2010 the Chicago Tribune reported that after repeated inspections found violence, abuse and mistreatment of residents at Somerset Place, the Rothner family’s largest facility, and after a female resident was murdered, the State of Illinois closed the home. In the year prior to Somerset’s closure, the facility received $15 million dollars in Illinois taxpayer money.
The Chicago Tribune in 2010 reported there had been 86 cases of sexual violence at the Rothner owned Rainbow Beach Care Center in Chicago, which were discovered during the State’s inspection of sexual assaults at another Rothner facility on the North side of Chicago, Sheridan Shores Care & Rehabilitation Center.
As a follow up in 2012 the Chicago Tribune reported that while sexual assaults continued, after female patients were held down and raped by male patients, a horror that had gone on at that point for years, rather than solving the problem, the Rothners instead shuffled control of Rainbow Beach amongst family and hired an attorney who worked to successfully expel state-assigned compliance monitors from the home. The Tribune also reported that during the same period of time, the Rothners paid themselves and others in ownership $3.8 Million dollars in dividends and distributions from proceeds to that home. It seems they are very experienced at extracting profit, but at a terrible, terrible cost to the residents in their facilities.
The list of failure to provide care while still making a profit goes on far longer than I have time to convey tonight.
Some of you may portray all that I said as anecdotal, but I know that you have been provided with extensive research and that there are literally thousands of violations by Rothner-owned or controlled nursing homes over the past few years.
Some of you may point to difficulties in care here. Those are real difficulties, but as a public nursing home the employees present know very well that those responsible for any failures in care are held accountable. If you turn this nursing home into a privately owned mechanism for profit, you will lose that accountability. To try to bend statistics to say that somehow the repeated terrible patterns in failure of care at so many Rothner facilities is equivalent to the precious, transparent and accountable community resource that is Champaign County Nursing Home is misleading at best, and incredibly dangerous at worst.
Despite the chaos that has been created by a year and a half of public discussion that this nursing home is destined to be sold, despite repeated turnover of supervisors, despite the high turnover of employees and a slight downturn in the census, all of which I believe are directly related to the constant talk of sale, despite all that chaos, employees continue to come to work every day and strive for quality care. With the cooperation of the new administrator, Gina Miller, employees established a quality service committee in order to maintain the focus of the nursing home on their true mission in these difficult times, which is to care for the people who call Champaign County Nursing Home their home.
Some of you here tonight may threaten to obstruct the financial operation of the nursing home if the vote does not go your way. Some of you here tonight have told employees it is either sell the home or lose their jobs, and pitted one group of County employees against the other. Some of you also did everything you could last year to defeat a ballot referendum that could have solved the financial problems of the county.
To you I say it is not too late. Look into your hearts before you vote tonight. A County government can choose to provide needed precious services to its citizens. Elected officials can lead and can decide to work hard to find ways to fund all critical services, including care of its elderly and most vulnerable citizens. You have the power tonight to choose to do those things. You have the power to choose the path that is harder, but which leads to a better place.