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ROCK ISLAND — Hope Creek Care Center can be turned around and remain under the ownership of the county, according to a report issued by a professional consulting firm.

Management Performance Associates (MPA) delivered its three-month cost-benefit analysis of the county-owned nursing home at 4343 Kennedy Drive to members of the Rock Island County Board's governance health and administration committee Monday. 

County board members narrowly approved hiring the firm in January at a cost of $29,000 for the analysis.  

"The report is pretty detailed and objective," County Administrator Jim Snider said. 

The report states the facility needs to increase revenue, reassess staffing needs, cultivate stronger management and bring in more private-pay or Medicare patients. 

"Hope Creek is an obvious turnaround candidate," the report states. "Whether the county decides to undertake a turnaround is an open issue. We believe Hope Creek's operating performance can be substantially improved, and we direct you to the financial model section of our report."

The 85-page report notes Hope Creek has $3.8 million in short-term debt, including $1.9 million owed to vendors, $1.85 million owed to the county's liability fund and a $87,000 working cash loan, also owed to the county. 

Snider told committee members at the April meeting that the nursing home had $5.3 million in debt, including $100,000 owed to GrapeTree Medical Staffing for nursing placement services.

The report identifies $2 million in potential expense savings that could be achieved by reducing the number of employees. 

"Staffing reductions may offset at least 85 percent of the nursing home tax levy of $2.6 million," the report states. 

Snider said staff issues were contributing to Hope Creek's problems. He said, on average, employees called in sick 250 times a month. 

"Major savings at Hope Creek will come from resolving overstaffing and wage provisions," the report notes. 

"Competitors have taken Medicare and private-pay market share away from Hope Creek. The only way for Hope Creek to succeed is to take it back. A turnaround of this magnitude will only succeed if there is support at the governance level," the report states.

Patty Luecke, Hope Creek business office manager, said there were currently 145 residents at the 210-bed facility.  

Snider said Honkamp Krueger accountants Bill Gabelmann and Tom Dryg were not present to deliver the monthly financial report on Hope Creek because the county could not afford to pay them.

"We are 120 days behind on paying their bill," Snider said. "It was my decision to say, 'Don't worry about coming; we already owe you $31,000, and we have no immediate prospect of bringing that up to current (payment status.)'"

The report concludes that turning around Hope Creek's financial position cannot be successful without the support of the county and the American Federation and State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union. 

"If the county decides to pursue a turnaround, the effort must be supported by both the county and AFSCME," the report states. "We have seen other successful turnarounds of county homes that occurred because all parties wanted to preserve the county home."

Committee members did not vote to advance the report to Wednesday's committee of the whole meeting. Snider said the report would have to wait until the June 12 meeting, when MPA Executive Vice President Scott Gima would be available to present the report in person. Snider said Gima had an unexpected conflict preventing him from delivering the report to board members this week. 

Read the report here

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