Why Rock Island County leaders say Hope Creek’s debt is growing

EAST MOLINE, Illinois -- Hope Creek Care Center is a county-run nursing home that's been serving the area for over a century.

But in recent years, the center's debt has been growing.  On Thursday, June 14, county board members confirmed that the latest debt figure stands at $4.4 million.

Board members said some of the issues that the facility is facing include lack of staffing, low enrollment, management problems and the State of Illinois making timely payments.

"The business model has changed so much and it's so integrated on finance and things like that today, when it wasn't in the early 1900s, or back when that facility was started," said Rock Island County Board member, Don Johnston, District 11.

But some board members said there's something else that's causing problems for Hope Creek.

"The biggest problem we've got is the negative press," said Rock Island County Board member, Robert Westpfahl, District 25. "Every time something goes wrong out there, it's in the paper."

"It’s kind of a perfect storm," said Johnston, "we got some bad publicity for one thing, I’m not blaming the news media but you get a report and it sounds bad and quite honestly we just got a review and we did real well, but nobody publicizes that, but they just publicize the lack of beds we have."

Although both board members acknowledged that the reports have been factual, Johnston said he feels the information could potentially deter potential residents or employees.

"They print the facts," said Johnston, "I think they dig a little deeper into a county facility than what they would into a private entity; and it's understandable."

In 2015, the Rock Island County Board decided against selling the county nursing home, but it's a topic that may be revisited.

"We've been advised one way or the other, it's such an emotional issue in shutting the facility down," said Johnston. "You have to be financially secure to even close something, I don't think we're to that point."

"I'm not saying what the county should do or shouldn't do, but we've got to do something different," said Westpfahl.

Hope Creek has a shut down one wing of the facility, leaving 35 beds unoccupied.  Johnston said about 40 beds out of an available 210 remained unoccupied.

Click here to read the Hope Creek Care Center Board of Director's report, which was presented to the Committee of the Whole Wednesday, June 13.