Hope Creek Care Center was forced to borrow money after vendors threatened to cut off food service to patients. The Rock Island County-owned nursing home is $2.45 million in debt.
Treasurer Louisa Ewert told county board members during the committee-of-the-whole meeting Wednesday night that Hope Creek borrowed $175,000 from the working cash fund March 28 in order to process emergency payments to food vendors.
Ewert said the county-owned nursing home also owes $750,000 borrowed from a tax anticipation warrant.
"I'm still concerned about their financial state," Ewert said. "At this point, pretty much all of their tax levy dollars will go toward paying down their debt. Whoever Hope Creek reports to at the state hasn’t been turning over vouchers to the comptroller’s office. Somewhere in the middle, it’s being held up."
Ewert said she sent a hardship letter to the office of Comptroller Susana Mendoza asking for help in collecting some of the $500,000 owed by the state. Letters also were sent to state Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, and state Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, seeking financial help for the nursing home at 4343 Kennedy Drive, East Moline.
Board member Patrick Moreno asked how far behind Hope Creek was falling in paying its vendors.. Ewert said some are owed money as far back as November.
Auditor April Palmer reported $1.4 million in payments were owed by Hope Creek in February.
"In March, it was $1,563,625," Palmer said. "It increased by $160,000 in one month. So yes, we are falling further into the hole."
Ewert said after payroll is made, the cash balance for Hope Creek is $44,000.
Board member Cecilia O'Brien said a report by interim county administrator Kurt Davis shows the cost per day of staying at Hope Creek is higher than what the state reimburses.
"We’ve reduced the amount of Medicaid people we have from 50 percent to 45 percent," O'Brien said. "Do for-profit nursing homes take more poor people than they have to? It seems like the burden of the lower payers comes to the county.”
O’Brien said part of the problem could be alleviated if additional for-profit care centers were willing to take in more Medicaid patients.
Board member Robert Reagan reported 56 percent of patients at Hope Creek are Medicaid recipients. He said the combined number of Medicaid and Medicare patients at Aperion Care in Moline is 91 percent, Rosewood Care Center is 58 percent, and St. Anthony’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is 88 percent.
"Medicare actually pays for itself, and then some," Palmer said. "You want those completely separate."
Board member Brian Vyncke said there is a distinct difference between what Medicare and Medicaid pay.
Palmer said the county has improved its standing from one year ago by $150,000.
"All department heads and elected officials in this county realize what’s going on and they keep themselves under budget," she said.