Champaign County Board approves sale of nursing home

Champaign County Board approves sale of nursing home

URBANA — The Champaign County Nursing Home will be privately owned come August.

Following months of debate and deliberations, the Champaign County Board voted 15-6 Thursday night to authorize the sale of the financially challenged home to Extended Care Clinical LLC and Altitude Health Services Inc., both headquartered in Evanston.

The purchase price was $11 million, the minimum set by the county board.

The proposal required a supermajority of at least 14 votes to pass, according to an opinion from Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz.

All 10 Republican board members supported the sale. They were joined by Democrats Pattsi Petrie, Giraldo Rosales, Chris Stohr, Shana Jo Crews and C. Pius Weibel.

About 135 people packed the Lyle Shields Meeting Room at the Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana for the vote.

"Attention to the affairs of the Champaign County Nursing Home have been neglected over the past 15 years, left to outside managers with no vested interest in the facility, and rises to board attention only when there is a fiscal crisis or shortage of soap and toilet paper," Stohr said. "Recent interest not withstanding, there have been no concrete proposals to change the oversight or management of the nursing home to insure sustainable operations, fiscal stability and genuine care for our elderly."

Democrat Stephanie Fortado opposed the sale.

"The deal is there is one buyer we have a chance to sell to right now," she said. "I do not comprehend how we can sell a public asset to this person."

"This is a tough, tough decision for me. We've got to put politics aside and do what is right for the people of Champaign County and the residents of the nursing home," said Republican Jon Rector.

"One thing that is certain about this new owner is he is going to fire staff," said Democrat Kyle Patterson. "We sit here every month and talk about how awful this home is and wonder why we only have one buyer."

"We need to work better together as a group," said Democrat Steve Summers.

An earlier proposal to delay the decision by a month was rejected by a 13-8 vote after Orren Adams, an attorney representing the board, said via telephone that a delay would be considered a rejection, "with the possibility the buyer could walk." In that instance, he said, the deposit made by the potential buyers would be returned and closing costs would increase.

In April 2017, voters gave the county board the authority to sell the nursing home by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent. But it wasn't until Jan. 9 that the board approved seeking proposals from interested buyers, with many Democrats fighting the idea, contending that voters in their districts opposed selling the home while those in mostly rural Republican districts who supported it.

Interim county administrator Deb Busey said the sale will close July 31.

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