Provena claims it can improve Vermilion Manor

DANVILLE — Provena Life Connections officials told Vermilion County Board members Tuesday night that they have no perfect way to overcome Vermilion Manor Nursing Home's funding struggles with the state, but they have ways to improve the bottom line and the quality of care if the county decides to hire them to manage the nursing home.

The officials made their pitch during Tuesday night's county board meeting, hoping to be hired to manage the facility if that's the direction the board chooses. The facility has been struggling financially, mostly due to late state Medicaid payments.

The Provena officials told the board that they would charge the county an annual fee of 5 percent of the nursing home's expenses to manage the home.

Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon said that would total about $480,000 a year.

Management Performance Associates, based in St. Louis, has managed the Champaign County Nursing Home since June 2008, and last year, the county renewed the contract for three more years. When the firm was originally chosen, the county had requested proposals for management of the nursing home. The county pays $186,354 a year for MPA's services and only the top administrator is an MPA employee, according to Debra Busey, county administrator. But MPA is responsible for management of the entire facility.

The Vermilion County Board did not take action at Tuesday night's meeting on whether to hire a management firm, but the county board's nursing home committee will begin studying the idea in coming weeks. The county board did take action Tuesday on several other issues during its more than three-hour meeting.

The board approved asking voters this fall if they would like the county to negotiate electric rates on their behalf. Integrys, an alternate energy supplier to Ameren, has proposed to the county an agreement in which they would negotiate for more affordable electric rates on behalf of Ameren electric customers in the county. If voters give the county the authority, then Ameren electric customers in the county would automatically be part of the program but would have the opportunity to opt out if they want.

The county board also voted in favor of granting raises to the countywide offices that are up for election this fall, which are coroner, auditor, circuit clerk and recorder. Members of the public and several county board members spoke against the raises, but the resolution eventually passed by a 15-7 vote with five members absent.

The county board also debated wind farms at length Tuesday night, because officials with the Hoopeston Wind Farm project were seeking a building permit from the county that would give them the green light to move forward with their project. The board eventually approved the permit by a 19-3 vote.

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