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County Board not ready to consider private operators for Hope Creek

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At a meeting Tuesday night, The Rock Island County Board said it isn't ready to consider private operators for Hope Creek Care Center just yet.

Tuesday's meeting began with more crowds and more pleas to keep the struggling nursing home county-owned.

"You've got the employees, you've got the staff, and they treat these people just like their own family members. They make sure they're taken care of, they make sure it's clean," said supporter Don Lind, who has two close friends at the center.

Steve Meersman, chair of the Board's Health and Human Services Committee, then asked for the Board's permission to gather proposals for the nursing home's potential lease. Meersman stressed that the vote was not whether or not to enter an agreement with a private operator, but to simply allow his committee to gather information and see if interest exists.

Board members, though, rejected the proposal with a 14-10 vote.

"It's not what I expected. I'd have liked to see it go through because I think it's just another tool to help us ensure the survivability of Hope Creek," said Meersman.

Hope Creek Care Center remains in dire financial straits. The nursing home faces an anticipated $2.5 million deficit next year.

"It's $9,000 a day that the state is not sending us to cover the cost of the care of the residents," explained Meersman.

Next November, the Board will likely ask voters if they support a property tax increase to keep Hope Creek afloat. Some Board members want a referendum as soon as March, simply asking if the County should maintain ownership of the nursing home at all.

"I'll take anything and everything at this point to keep this going," said Meersman.

The County Board also voted Tuesday night to proceed with an appraisal of the East Moline property. Board members said they'll now wait to see what recommendations the Blue Ribbon Committee comes up with.