Editorial | Bucks, but not big bucks

Editorial | Bucks, but not big bucks

Champaign County officials are in no position to turn down a request to lease out part of their nursing home. But the state is.

Given the Champaign County Nursing Home's terrible financial problems, it's no surprise county officials are willing to consider any offer that boosts cash flow there.

Still, it was a bit of a surprise to learn county officials are considering leasing a portion of the facility for use as an addiction treatment center for more than 20 patients.

Drug addicts mixed in with elderly and infirm nursing home residents? What could possible go wrong?

County officials, obviously, had the same concerns, and it looks as if the safety question will be adequately addressed if this plan gets off the ground.

Under the agreement, Rosecrance Health Systems will pay $16,860 a month to lease one wing of the nursing home for six months, possibly longer.

That's a pittance compared with the nursing home's debts of about $4 million to its vendors as well as the county itself. But it's better than nothing.

If these two operations can be conducted simultaneously and safely within the nursing home, fine.

Champaign County Board Chairman Pius Weibel said a variety of procedures will be put in place to ensure that nursing home residents and the drug facility patients have no opportunities to interact.

Further, Weibel said the addiction center will be treating patients who are there of their own volition, a factor that helps minimize safety issues.

But it remains to be seen if this plan will become a reality.

The Illinois Department of Public Health apparently has some questions about the county's proposed agreement. Given the circumstances involved, that's no surprise.

It appears county board members, who have been reassured about the safety issues, are on board with the lease if it passes muster with the Public Health Department.

But no one should be under the illusion that a lease deal, however long it remains in place, will change the financial realities surrounding the nursing home. The facility is on life support and fading fast, making a potential sale to a private entity the only viable alternative if it's to remain in operation.

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