A small but dedicated and unpaid staff remains at Forest Hill Rehab nursing home to care for hard to place patients who desperately need a new home.
Forest Hill owners announced yesterday the home in East Moline was shutting its doors as early as Friday, and workers were not going to be paid at least until the end of the month, or longer.
"Last night, there were five patients left," said Allison O'Malley, a veteran LPN who worked the overnight shift. "Three staff members until 4 in the morning, and one of the staff left because she had gotten called in on second shift so she had been there since 6:30 the night before," O'Malley said.
The patients include one with Alzheimer's and mental issues.
O'Malley says close to 60 residents over the past two weeks were rounded up and shuttled to facilities in East Moline and Galesburg. First, patients in the mentally ill unit and then those with Alzheimer's.
"They were all told they would be back, that we were remodeling. We were going to get a new roof, new tile," O'Malley said, talking about the emotional trauma the abrupt move caused.
"We don't even move Alzheimer's patients from their room to another. You don't deviate from their routine because any deviation can be traumatic," she said.
O'Malley says one man tried to barricade himself in his room before having to leave the facility.
Melaney Arnold, with the Illinois Department of Health which oversees nursing homes in the state, says a man named Michael Lerner owns the home. She says by law, there has to be a 90 day notice of closure to allow patients time to move.
"Some of the people didn't know they were moving until staff came in with boxes. These people have to be in terror, literally in terror," O'Malley said.