October 12, 2022
A big thank you to each and every one of you who took action in response to CCHCC’s action alert about the Rothner’s plan to try to sell the former county nursing home (now called University Rehabilitation Services of C-U) to a non-nursing home entity.
Your actions made a difference!
What happened at last night’s County Board Meeting: Last night, several people spoke during Public Participation, urging the County Board to vote NO on the Rothner’s request to sell the nursing home. There were no speakers supporting the Rothner’s request.
The County Board voted, unanimously, to deny the Rothner’s request (not a common occurrence)! Many spoke very eloquently and powerfully about why they would vote no, and why the covenants in the sale contract mattered so much.
What the Rothner representatives had to say: This part is very disturbing. The representatives for the Rothners were an attorney and a financial manager. The financial manager did most of the talking. He seemed pleasant and non-combative.
But this would prove to be disingenuous. He explained about how the Rothner’s just can’t make it work financially at the nursing home and why they need to sell. He explained that the Rothners are not some huge corporation with stakeholders, but a family-owned business that put their own money into purchasing the nursing home, and it is simply unsustainable for them. I think he was hoping for pity or mercy or understanding, since it’s a “family owned business” as opposed to some huge corporate company with shareholders.
The public knows that there are massively wealthy “family-owned” businesses that don’t have shareholders. The Walton Family and Walmart are a good easy example that comes to mind. So framing this as a “family owned” business does not necessarily invite pity.
There was some back and forth discussion between County Board members and the Rothner’s representatives.
But ultimately, what the representative said was this: The County Board cannot stop the Rothners from shutting down the nursing home, under IL State law. He said that if they cannot sell it to an substance use treatment provider, they can, under state law, just shut it down with 60 days notice. The representative said that this would be a “lose-lose” option. He said there are only two options: either grant permission to sell to a non-nursing home provider (a “win” for Rothners, but a loss for the community), or they can shut it down with 60 days notice (a loss for them, and a loss for the community). In other words, they issued what seemed like a threat.
County Board Stephanie Fortado pushed back hard! She challenged some of the data they provided by doing some math in public, and then she also stated that there were more than just those options being presented. She said a third option could be that they hire more staff and improve the quality of care at the nursing home to improve its census and its finances. But she noted that the Rothners failed to apply for a grant that would have given the opportunity to do exactly that.
So, where do things stand for now? From what the Rothners said, it sounds like they are intent of shutting down the nursing home in one way or another. They want to do it in the way that benefits them financially, of course (selling it to a rehab services provider). But if they just shut it down with the 60 days notice, the effect is the same as if our county would allow them to sell it, in terms of patients having to be relocated (a horrifying thought). However, it could still remain a nursing home and perhaps another nursing home provider would consider running it.
In other words – there is no certainty for the future of the nursing home, we are very sorry to say.
But, the Rothners could conceivably work with the community to try to improve the situation at the nursing home and maybe consider other alternatives, if they were so inclined.
What you can do to help: It is a situation that can make many of us feel helpless, but it is important to keep an eye on this issue and to not give up. If you wrote to your County Board members, you could reach out to them and thank them for their vote last night. They deserve thanks for voting to try to protect the nursing home and the people of this community, and for not rolling over for the Rothners. And you can stay tuned to the news and to CCHCC to see what’s next.
Thank you for your activism! Thank you for responding to the CCHCC action alerts and please stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.
Champaign County Health Care Consumers