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Hope Creek Care Center's board of directors wants to remove a portion of debt from its books by writing off unpaid bills and collecting on unpaid debt.

The county-owned nursing home is $4.4 million in debt, most of it owed by Medicare, insurance companies and former patients. Illinois Medicaid owes Hope Creek nearly $1 million.

In a board meeting on Monday, board president Jessey Hullon suggested bills older than 150 to 210 days be removed from the books or pursued by a debt collection agency.

"This has been a problem for me," Hullon said. "We have to collect the money that people owe us. We need to get this dead money off the books and perhaps try to collect some of it. We need to see realistic numbers and where we are in our financial position."

He said at least $2 million in debt is 210 days or older. He asked county board members to address the issue.

Board member Michael Kelly said Hope Creek has paid off a significant amount of debt in recent years.

"Sometimes it's forgotten that Hope Creek has (brought) down its debt," Kelly said. "That sometimes gets overlooked. It's been paid off by 50 or 60 percent. Hope Creek is making headway with some of its issues and we continue to go in the right direction. I don't think there is enough fanfare."

Hope Creek Care Center Executive Director Cassie Baker updated board members on admissions, saying the number of patients are down from last month. Ms. Baker attributed the drop in admissions to recent news stories about Hope Creek borrowing $175,000 to pay food vendors who threatened to cut off the food supply to patients.

Board member Dr. Rodney Simmer noted there were 177 patients out of a possible 210 beds in March, with 256 being the average number of patients. Currently, there are 167 patients, of which 102, or 61 percent, are on Medicaid.

"It's one of those things we're trying to find balance with," Baker said. "Do you leave the bed open and not make any money off of that bed or take a Medicaid patient and make less money?

"It's tough, especially when you're in a staffing crisis, too."

On a positive note, Ms. Baker said agency staffing costs were down by $17,000.

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Business Editor/Night City Editor