Hope Creek nursing home fines add up

ROCK ISLAND-The Rock Island County auditor says board members who say they were unaware of fines leveled against Hope Creek Nursing Home by the state must not have been paying attention.

"In my reports, constantly, I type up Treasurer's disbursements. They're on a one page report I give monthly, they're on a three page that I give in detail monthly. The invoices are always included," said April Palmer, Rock Island County Auditor.

At a November 15th meeting with board members, some asked for better communication when it comes to fines and penalties  against the county owned nursing home.

Palmer says the total paid to the state for violations and late fees is more than $180,000 over the past five years.

The most recent, a $27,000 payout to the state for issues ranging from patient care to alleged sexual abuse.

"They haven't been brought to our attention. I'm really upset that I have to wake up and read in the paper we've been fined $27,000," said Rock Island County Board Member Don Johnston.

Palmer says the fines are not always approved on the front end by the full county board, but says they should not be a surprise.

"If they're not paying attention to Hope Creek in one month's time, maybe," she said.

Palmer says the largest payout to the state was in 2014 for $128,000, most of which she says, was due to late fees.

"That's because the state decided to fine us $5,050 a day that we didn't send that payment in," she said, noting that the state remains way behind on what it owes Hope Creek.

She said the nursing home had asked the state for a "hardship" deferment, but was denied.

Home Creek has its own budget, and is funded in part by property tax dollars, separate from the general fund.

Some board members are questioning what they believe is a gap in communication when it comes to the nursing home, and they would like better notification when large sums are being spent.