Emotional board meeting as Rock Island County considers how to move forward with Hope Creek

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Rock Island County has owned a nursing home for more than 150 years but with a worsening financial situation, Rock Island County Board is considering how to move forward with Hope Creek Care Center.

The Rock Island County Board meeting on Tuesday, October 15, 2013, was packed with people opposed to any plans to sell or lease the care center.

Many of those people were Hope Creek employees concerned with how a sale or lease might impact their benefits or jobs, but they also emphasized that the quality of care found at Hope Creek is rarely found elsewhere.

“Well it's my livelihood to begin with but more importantly, it's the resident's home,” said Shelley Close, who has worked at the county owned nursing home for nearly 40 years.

"That home belongs to the people,” said Dino Leone, President of the Quad City Federation of Labor.

"This is something that we elected politicians to care for our home and to care for the financial responsibilities down the line,” added Leone.

Rock Island County Board Chairman Phil Banaszek says the financial responsibilities are not sustainable.

"The financial situation continues, we lose about $10,000 a day,” said Banaszek.

Speaking to the Board, Steve Meersman, Health and Human Services Chair said the nursing home is costing the county nearly $10,000 a day, resulting in an annual loss of nearly $3.5 million. A press release from Banaszek and Meersman on October 10, 2013, said of the 232 residents at the nursing home, 130 are on Medicaid. The State of Illinois is supposed to reimburse for those patients, but the county is being reimbursed $70 less than the actual cost of each Medicaid patient.

“Ya know we can only sustain that for so long,” said Banaszek.

Some board members spoke against selling the home,

“The potential is there, but it's one the last options,” said Banaszek.

While presenting information on Hope Creek, Meersman also said he was resigning from his position as Health and Human Services Chair, saying future relations with Hope Creek are impossible.

The Rock Island County Board will take official action on how to move forward with Hope Creek at their November 19, 2013 meeting. They will consider a referendum.

Property taxes are likely to rise about $80 a year for a home based on $150,000 of assessed value. That would only happen if the referendum passes in March.