Loan to Vermilion nursing home may not be needed

Loan to Vermilion nursing home may not be needed

DANVILLE — With its own near windfall of $2.3 million in cash from the state in the last several days, Vermilion Manor Nursing Home may not need the county's "wind" money after all.

On the agenda for tonight's (Tuesday, Dec. 13) Vermilion County Board meeting might be a resolution to loan the county-owned nursing home the $572,000 that wind farm developer Invenergy recently sent to the county per its road agreement for the 134-turbine wind farm being built in the western Vermilion County. That money is meant for the county's highway department, to help it maintain county roads that will experience more wear and tear during construction of the wind farm.

The county board will meet at 6 p.m. today at the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, 6 N. Vermilion St., Danville.

But Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon said he might decide this morning to pull the loan from the agenda.

He will be meeting with the county auditor this morning, he said, to determine whether the loan is still necessary to help the nursing home cover its bills and the next few payrolls, which generally total about $200,000 for about 220 full- and part-time employees.

The nursing home received a check from the state on Monday for a little more than $1.5 million to cover Medicaid costs, bringing the facility's total receipts to $2.3 million since Dec. 1, according to Administrator Joan Darr. Last week, the facility received a $750,000 check from the state, also for Medicaid costs.

"We have some good breathing room. This is the blessing we were promised," said McMahon, who gives credit to state Sen. Mike Frerichs and state Rep. Chad Hays for helping the county secure most of the Medicaid funding it's owed. He said they helped get the doors open, and Frerichs carried the cause all the way to Washington. The $1.5 million that came Monday is federal Medicaid matching dollars that flow through the state to the nursing home.

The critical revenue helps the nursing home not only make payroll but also pay its outstanding bills, which have been piling up the last several weeks after the state moved to a 120-day Medicaid reimbursement cycle in July, creating a cash crunch at Vermilion Manor. Medicaid is the facility's largest revenue source. About 120 of Vermilion Manor's 172 residents are Medicaid-assisted.

The $750,000 received last week was not enough to cover the facility's bills, according to county officials, so McMahon proposed to the county board that it loan the $572,000 wind money to Vermilion Manor for 90 days.

After a lengthy discussion and some tough questions, the county board's finance committee decided last week to approve the short-term loan. The county board would have to give final approval tonight.

McMahon said he would be "super happy" if he could take the loan off tonight's agenda, but he wants to look at the "whole picture" and make sure that the loan will not be needed in the next few months, even with the $2.3 million now in hand. He said the nursing home is still owed about $700,000 through today, so that's why he's meeting with county Auditor Linda Lucas Anstey this morning to get an accounting of what's owed to the amount now in the bank.

He said he hopes he can pull it off the agenda, but nothing changes the fact that the nursing home came close to not making payroll this month.

That's why McMahon said regardless of whether the loan is still necessary, efforts to evaluate the county-owned nursing home's future are still in the works.

The nursing home has been moved from a 120-day to a 45-day reimbursement cycle for state Medicaid payments, and Darr said the facility should receive the Medicaid matching dollars on a quarterly basis from now on. If those revenue sources stay on time, she said, the nursing home should be able to survive independently.

Source 1 Commercial Capital, a financial consulting service owned by Mike Harmon, has been hired by the county at a cost of $4,000 to do a feasibility analysis of the facility, taking into consideration the financial uncertainty at the state level, McMahon said. And by February, McMahon said, the county should know whether or not it can still manage the nursing home in "this landscape."

He said with most of what the state owed now in hand, closing the facility in the near future will not be an option.

"There will be no plan on the table that would immediately put the nursing home in jeopardy of closing," McMahon said. "By March, I will have the financial system totally evaluated, and I will have the operation that we have today totally evaluated by March, and the county board will have every answer (it) needs to make a decision."

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