EAST MOLINE — Hope Creek Care Center residents, family members and volunteers are reacting to news that Rock Island County will try to sell the county-owned nursing home at 4343 Kennedy Drive.
The reactions vary from unabashed optimism to frustration, but many feel that a change in ownership will not affect the excellent care they say is provided at the facility.
JoAnn DeJonghe, 91, has lived at Hope Creek for three years.
"I'm not worried about it because God is in control," DeJonghe said. "What's supposed to be will be. It will work out fine; we'll be taken care of. I'm perfectly happy here. It's clean, and the (staff) are wonderful.
"I feel great because I'm happy," she said. "If you're happy where you're at, it shows."
County board members voted 16-5 June 18 to authorize County Administrator Jim Snider to prepare a request for proposal (RFP) for offers to sell the cash-strapped facility.
Board members Ken "Moose" Maranda, Edna Sowards, Lauren Boswell-Loftin, Jeff Deppe and Ed Langdon opposed. Larry Burns, Brian Vyncke and David Adams abstained.
According to Snider, Hope Creek is currently $7.5 million in debt, including $2.5 million owed to vendors and $3.4 million to the county, which has been making up for shortfalls out of the general fund.
Larry Sandefur is a volunteer at Hope Creek. He is hopeful the nursing home can be turned around and remain under the ownership of the county.
"It's a good nursing home," Sandefur said. "I play Santa Claus for them and help them out in the dining room and a couple of other things. The activities keep them busy doing stuff, and it's just a wonderful nursing home. They're getting a bad rap and I think we can turn it around and show the community it's a caring place.
"You've got to be positive," he said. "You've got to have a good, positive feeling."
DeJonghe and Sandefur were seated outside the building, near the front doors on a warm summer day. Residents and family members came and went as DeJonghe and Sandefur exchanged smiles and greetings.
Nearby, an employee was cutting perfect rows of grass in the lawn. The landscaping was expertly manicured with blooming flowers, hostas and other plants. Inside, the facility was buzzing with activity as employees tended to residents and families visited with their loved ones. The nursing home was spotless and bright.
Linda Lowell has been volunteering at Hope Creek for eight years, and her mother, June Lowell, has been a resident for two years. Linda Lowell said she also didn't think selling the nursing home would affect the quality of care she said her mother received.
"The place is safe; you couldn't ask for a better place," Lowell said. "The help is wonderful."
Gary Miller arrived to visit his mother, Opal Miller, 94. He disagreed with the decision to sell the home.
"I think it's crazy; they never should have done it," Miller said. "It's a nice place. I don't understand how they got so far into debt. They shouldn't have voted to sell it."
Miller said the family didn't want to put Opal in a nursing home, but they weren't able to take care of her themselves.
"We're not sorry we did it; they take really good care of her," Miller said. "She likes it here. They're good to her, and that's what I like."
"Look at this guy, he gets fatter every time I see him," Miller said, gesturing toward Sandefur.
Sandefur, DeJonghe and Miller burst out laughing.
"If another buyer comes in, I'll probably move her somewhere else," Miller said. "I don't think it's right. The state should be helping out the county."
Don Peterson, 68, has been a resident at Hope Creek for four years. He also is disappointed with the decision by county board members to sell the home. He doesn't know if he will remain at Hope Creek.
"I like Hope Creek. I like the staff, I like the facility," Peterson said. "I don't know what the county is thinking.
"I've been trying to say 'thank you' to all of the employees because they deserve to be thanked," Peterson said. "I try to express my gratitude to each of them as I see them. I know it affects me, but it affects them just as much. This has been a good place; I'm glad I'm here. The people I meet are nice and the staff has been very good. I'm very happy with it.
"The thought of having to move again is not a good thing."