State board considering venue change for nursing-home sale hearing

State board considering venue change for nursing-home sale hearing

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URBANA — A state board is looking into the possibility of changing the location for a public hearing on the sale of the Champaign County Nursing Home.

Several people have questioned why the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board selected the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center at 202 S. Broadway, U, as the site of the Sept. 13 hearing.

Board counsel Jeannie Mitchell didn't make any promises about a location change.

"We'll look into it," she said Monday.

Champaign County Health Care Consumers Executive Director Claudia Lennhoff said she spoke to Mitchell to pass along concerns that the chosen location would make it tougher for older adults and those with disabilities to come and testify. Among the concerns is how easily people in wheelchairs would find it to reach the building from the center's suggested public parking spaces in a nearby parking deck.

Lennhoff said she has been contacted by people with disabilities who have concerns, and "it just seemed like an odd location," she said.

"All I can think of is someone in the community must have suggested that location," she said.

Champaign County Board Chairman C. Pius Weibel said he has also heard the choice of location questioned.

"Interesting site, but I know nothing," he said.

Location considerations for public hearings before the state board include finding a spot in the same planning area as the issue before the board, making sure the site is large enough to hold the crowd expected and avoiding any buildings owned by the applicants, according to the board staff.

Lennhoff said she made some suggestions about alternate locations in Champaign-Urbana where hearings have been held in the past. But any change would need to be made quickly. The board is coming up on a deadline to publish a public notice 15 days in advance of the hearing, she said.

Lennhoff said she has nothing against the Independent Media Center, but it's not a location she'd have chosen to host a hearing on a health care topic bound to interest the elderly.

"I'm hopeful that they can find a better location," she said.

Brian Dolinar, program director at the Independent Media Center, said the main floor of the building where the hearing will take place is accessible to people with disabilities. The post office operates an elevator on the southwest corner, and there's a ramp and door on the south side of the building, he said.

The hearing before the state board is set to run from 2 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 13.

A hearing officer will take public testimony for the board to consider on Oct. 30 regarding the planned $11 million sale of the county-owned nursing home to Altitude Acquisitions LLC.