Hope Creek debt continues growing, looks to improve star rating

EAST MOLINE, Illinois-- The Rock Island County Administrator says Hope Creek Care Center is now $5 million in debt but hopes to bring in new patients soon.

County Administrator Jim Snider says the county-run nursing home is using the county credit card to cover some expenses right now. Rock Island County Board member Brian Vyncke says they're partially waiting on property taxes to come in to pay some of the debt.

"It is out of the ordinary," Snider says. "I've never seen a government entity have such a cash flow issue... The industry is challenged. I think everyone is struggling with the shortage of nurses, struggling with the slow pay of Medicaid."

Vyncke says many patients at Hope Creek rely on Medicaid. He says it's important they continue to have somewhere to stay.

"People on Medicaid are there because they're out of money," he says. "And they contributed to the tax roles at one point, and we have to keep them in mind because they have to go somewhere."

Vyncke says the staff at Hope Creek is trying to improve care with a tight budget. He hopes when the state comes into re-rate the facility, the center's star rating will go up.

The Illinois Department of Public Health assists the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with rating the state's nursing homes. It's a five-star scale, and the average rating in Illinois is 3.18 stars.

Right now, Hope Creek has two stars. The assessment is based on health inspections, quality of care and staffing. Hope Creek has four out of five stars for staffing with only one for health inspections and two for the quality of care measures.

"Our star rating has to be three to basically have full intake ability," Snider says. "We have a lot of people that want to come into hope creek. It's a beautiful facility. It's well managed. It just has a significant level of financial issues."

Snider says once the center's rating improves, more hospitals will refer patients to Hope Creek.

The Rock Island County Board is also waiting on a cost-benefit analysis of the care center as well as a report on the nursing home industry in the area. That report should be presented next month at the board's May 15 committee of the whole meeting.

That report will come with recommendations for increasing revenue, decreasing costs or closing the care center.

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