Longtime Abingdon nursing home blames economy and regulations for upcoming closure

ABINGDON, Illinois - Nearly lunchtime at the Care Center of Abingdon on January 23, it's a busy place.

"It was very difficult," said Joe Coulter, Unlimited Development, on the decision to close a facility that's been serving patients since 1965.  Some 60 staffers will lose their jobs.

"We hate to see any jobs lost, or our residents be displaced," he continued.

But after more than a half-century in health care, the center will close its doors for good by March 31.

Changes and delays with Medicaid payments hurt the bottom line.  It's a situation that also reflects the massive deficit in Illinois.

"I think it's kind of changing times in a lot of areas," said Administrator Shannon Mullin.

There are currently 38 patients at the facility.  Most of them are on Medicaid.  Staffers will help them to find new homes.

"The Medicaid rates are typically lower than it would cost to take care of a patient," Coulter said.  "It makes it extremely difficult to operate under those funds."

This nursing home is also showing its age.  New federal regulations would require costly upgrades that reach past six figures.

"Unfortunately, with the new federal codes that require massive updates of our physical plant, and the building being built in the 60's, it's just not feasible to be doing these things," he said.

Coulter also says there's 300 vacant nursing home beds available around the surrounding area.

Less than 24 hours after employees got official word of the closing, it seems like the end of an era for Abingdon. It's tougher and tougher for rural areas to operate a nursing home.

"Everybody took it fairly well," recalled Mullin.  "It's just kind of something they've done for a long time.  Everybody's just going to miss each other."

Some employees have been at the facility for more than 30 years.  They'll get assistance looking for new jobs.

"With the need for employment at other nursing homes in the area, I don't think anybody should have any difficulty finding a job," Coulter concluded.