March 14, 2023
Tonight, the Champaign County Board will meet as the Committee of the Whole, and, as part of the meeting, will consider another request from the Rothners to be allowed to sell the former Champaign County Nursing Home to an entity that would use the space to create a drug and alcohol treatment center.
The Rothners are asking the County Board, once again, to let them out of the covenant where they promised to continue to operate the nursing home for at least 10 years. The Rothners have only operated the former County Nursing Home, now called University Rehabilitation Services of C-U, for less than four years.
CCHCC isurging community members to contact their County Board Members, or the County Board as a whole, to oppose the Rothner’s request to sell the nursing home. And/or, people can speak during public participation at tonight’s County Board Committee of the Whole Meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. The Agenda Packet for tonight’s meeting is posted here.
There has been some coverage about this in the news, which you can see here.
The Rothners are claiming that no harm would come to the community as a result of selling the former County Nursing Home and converting it to another type of treatment facility. But this is false. Right now, many community members who need nursing home or rehab care are being sent to facilities away from our community, where it is hard for their families and friends to visit them regularly. If this nursing home goes away, our community will have lost a total of three nursing homes, thanks to the Rothners.
The Rothners should NOT be allowed to sell the nursing home, and they MUST be made to abide by the covenant they signed when they were given permission to buy the former County Nursing Home.
Here are some Q & A that might be helpful for understanding the situation:
Q: The Rothners say that the county has excess nursing home beds anyway, as evidenced by the low census numbers in some local nursing homes (including their own). They also say that the low census numbers are partially due to fewer people seeking nursing home care in our county. Is this true?
A: Low census numbers in nursing homes often correlate with quality of care. The more quality of care problems there are at a nursing home, the more likely that their census will go down because they will receive fewer referrals, and fewer families will want to place their loved ones in nursing homes with poor reputations. Many Champaign County residents are currently being transferred to nursing homes outside of our county (which is a real hardship on them and their families) because they cannot be placed in local facilities.
Q: Is it true that our county does not need the nursing home that the Rothners operate (the former County Nursing Home)?
A: If the County allows the Rothners to sell the nursing home to a non-nursing home operator, our county will not have enough nursing home beds for our population. On average, across the United States, about 4% of seniors aged 65 and older live in nursing homes. In Champaign County, that 4% would come out to about 1,128 people. If the Rothners are allowed to sell, Champaign County would only be left with approximately 400 Medicaid-eligible beds. Remember that Medicaid is very important in long-term care because most people who have to live in a nursing home will deplete their assets paying for the care and will eventually have to transition to Medicaid, which will pay for their care at the nursing home, unless they are very wealthy.
Q: But doesn’t our community need alcohol and drug rehab services?
A: Yes, but not at the expense of losing a nursing home facility forever. People who suffer from addictions also often need nursing home care. If the Rothners want to sell, they should honor the covenant they made with Champaign County and they should try to find a buyer who will operate the nursing home as a nursing home.
Q: If there are quality of care issues at the Rothner-owned nursing home, is it worth having the nursing home continue?
A: Yes. Quality of care can be improved. And frankly, it SHOULD improve. University Rehab has been on the Medicare “Special Focus Facility” list for about 15 months now. University Rehab IS showing improvements, and is now on the list for “Facilities That Have Shown Improvement”.
Q: Is it true that quality of care is often related to staffing levels? What if the Rothners cannot adequately staff the nursing home? That’s not their fault, is it?
A: Quality of care can be very directly related to staffing levels. This is one of the bases on which CCHCC opposed the sale of the County Nursing Home to the Rothners – because we knew that their staffing model involved a reduction in the total number of registered nurses who would work in the nursing home. However, the Rothners COULD improve staffing at the nursing home if they wanted to.
Q: Do the Rothners have the resources to improve the staffing levels at the nursing home?
A: When the Rothners came into the Champaign County community, they purchased and closed two other nursing homes – Helia Healthcare and Heartland Healthcare. The revenue from the sale of these properties could help pay for more staff and higher wages, to help create an excellent nursing home. Stay tuned to CCHCC. We will keep you updated on this situation.
Champaign County Health Care Consumers