DANVILLE — Vermilion County officials have enlisted a marketing firm to help sell the county-owned Vermilion Manor Nursing Home.
Vermilion County Board Chairman Gary Weinard said the firm, which specializes in nursing homes, will be like a real-estate agent that markets a home. The firm is currently putting together information about Vermilion Manor that will be of interest to potential buyers.
County attorney Bill Donahue said the county has signed an agreement with Marcus and Millichap, which has offices in Chicago. He said the firm gets commission only if there is a sale. The agreement runs through Aug. 7, he said.
Last fall, Vermilion County voters gave county officials the authority to pursue a sale of the county-owned facility, which has struggled financially off and on for many years, but most notably since late 2011, in large part because of slow reimbursement payments from the state for Medicaid costs.
Vermilion Manor generally maintains a resident count above 150, and the majority of those residents' costs are funded by Medicaid, which puts more pressure on the facility's financial situation when reimbursements are slow or reduced.
In November 2011, the facility was owed as much as $1 million in Medicaid funding and was struggling to pay its bills.
By November of last year, the county board had decided the best way to ensure the nursing home would remain a long-term-care facility would be to offer it for sale to a private entity that would have the financial ability and health care expertise to keep it open. The county board then approved a referendum in the November election asking voters to grant it the authority to sell the facility on Catlin-Tilton Road just west of Tilton, and the voters approved, 17,949 to 10,791.
Weinard said the long-term-care market is fairly active right now, with sales of nursing homes taking place fairly regularly, and Marcus and Millichap is one of the larger firms specializing in marketing nursing homes. He said the company recently marketed a facility in Champaign County that sold late last year. He said the firm knows of clients actively looking for property like Vermilion Manor in this area. He said the plan is for this firm to bring the county some prospects that will be narrowed to two or three.
"And our goal will be to pick someone that has the long-term goal of having a nursing home remain at that location for the benefit of the residents as well as staff," he said.
Weinard said there are no up-front costs to the county. The firm gets its commission if the property sells, but, he added, if a local buyer emerges and completes a sale, the firm will not get a commission, because county officials had already contacted local entities, such as Presence United Samaritans Medical Center, to see if they might be interested in buying Vermilion Manor.
"We've already made those contacts prior to engaging (Marcus and Millichap's) services," he said.
Donahue said the agreement with Marcus and Millichap does not require county board approval, but a sale would. He said the goal is to move slowly through this process and deal with reputable potential buyers who want to maintain a quality nursing home.
"We are trying to look after the residents and make sure they get the best result, and the same with the staff. We want to make sure we find someone who is the kind of employer we would like to have," he said.