Hope Creek Care Center borrows to battle debt to more than 50 vendors

EAST MOLINE, Illinois - Hope Creek Care Center must borrow $175,000 after vendors threatened to cut off services, supplies, even food, if the county-owned nursing home doesn't pay up.

"They kind of drew a line in the sand that said, you need to get us some money to continue service, to continue to get food delivered to Hope Creek," said Rock Island County Treasurer Louisa Ewert, on Thursday, April 12.

The nursing home remains more than $2.4 million in debt.  It blames agency costs, staff shortages and state payment delays for adding to the woes.

"The county is not in much better shape, frankly," said Don Johnston, Rock Island County Board.  "But all this rescuing of Hope Creek is taking from the county."

Hope Creek Executive Director Cassie Baker says that the clock is ticking for the facility with more than 170 residents.  She's taking corrective action with a spending freeze.  One wing also remains closed.

"We're diligently working to turn things around," she said.

Baker hopes to fill vacant positions at a Job Fair on April 19, 2018. She also says that switching from 8 to 12-hour shifts would save money.

"They're doing everything they can," said Drue Mielke, Rock Island County Board.  "The thing of it is, it's a challenging industry."

It's so challenging that upcoming tax distributions will bring little to no  relief to the nursing home.  That makes a long-term solution even more difficult to find.

The State of Illinois also owes the nursing home more than $500,000 in back payments.

Baker says that June will be a better month for being able to pay bills,  but Treasurer Ewert knows the trend can't continue indefinitely.

"They're in a critical situation out there financially," she concluded.