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Hope Creek Care Center at 4343 Kennedy Drive in East Moline.

ROCK ISLAND — The outlook for Hope Creek Care Center has grown worse with vendors threatening to pull their services because of unpaid bills

PRN Health Services, the nursing staffing agency for Hope Creek, says it will refuse to provide nurses and aides unless the facility pays $35,000, members of the Rock Island County Governance, Health and Administration Committee learned Monday. 

Hope Creek also owes Consonus Therapy $325,000, which provides physical therapy services for the county-owned nursing home at 4343 Kennedy Drive, East Moline.

"With (PRN) Agency pulling out of our building, that has just opened up 18 eight-hour nursing shifts for the next week," Hope Creek Director of Nursing Katherine Hughes said. "I have no way to fill them unless I'm pulling people from their normal work duties. When I do that, our quality drops.

"We are up against some significant challenges," Hughes said. "This is probably the worst I've seen it in four years."

"As soon as we get that paid, they'll start sending staff back to us," Hope Creek Interim Executive Director Roger Herman said. 

Herman said he had cut "unnecessary staffing" since taking over March 15. 

"I've cut about $40,000 a pay period in staff costs without affecting the quality," Herman said. "There may be more to come, but you can only cut so far and only do so much."

County Administrator Jim Snider told committee members in April that Hope Creek had $5.3 million in debt, which included $100,000 owed to GrapeTree Medical Staffing for nursing placement services.

"We have a day-to-day crisis of keeping the home open with staffing," Snider said Monday. "We have agencies saying they are going to cut us off if we don't pay them. If we can't get staffing for the home, it opens up safety issues."

County Treasurer Louisa Ewert told committee members that payroll for Hope Creek was short by $100,000 last Friday and had to be paid out of the county's general fund. 

"As soon as Hope Creek gets the $100,000, it has to be paid back to the general fund," Ewert said. "Balances are very low; the general fund is below $50,000."

Meanwhile, county board members will discuss whether to keep Hope Creek or sell it during Wednesday's committee of the whole meeting. 

Committee members approved advancing a report on the status of the facility to the full county board for discussion and consideration. Committee member Lauren Boswell-Loftin was absent. 

The report, a three-month cost-benefit analysis done by Management Performance Associates (MPA), will be presented to board members by MPA Executive Vice President Scott Gima. 

The county paid $29,000 for the analysis, which was first issued to committee members May 13. The report says Hope Creek can be turned around and remain under the ownership of the county. 

"This is, in my career, is the hardest decision any elected board has ever had to deal with," Snider said. "I'm anticipating we'll have a lot of critical thinking about this."

Also Monday, Herman said results from the annual survey conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services were good, with only six minor deficiencies reported. 

"I feel like we had a really good survey," Herman said. "We had six deficiencies with no actual harm. We submitted our plan of correction. In this day and age, six (deficiencies) is not very many."

Hughes said there could be up to 20 citations made against a nursing facility. 

"Six and under without actual harm shows the work and dedication being done to maintain compliance," Hughes said. "Last year there were between 12 and 13 (citations), so we cut that in half. The only reason we are able to pull off such a survey is because we are able to staff the building."

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