10/3/2018 9:36:00 AM Area nursing home closing 1 of 2 facilities
By BILL RICHARDSON Daily News
In what it says was a difficult decision, the Board of Directors of the United Methodist Village nursing homes will close its facility known as "South Campus," at 1616 Cedar Street in Lawrenceville, effective Dec. 31.
"The 16 remaining residents who live there and their responsible parties are being notified today," said Ashli Wesley, UMV Temporary Administrator, in a press release. "We will assist them in relocating to other facilities in the next few weeks."
Peggy Cummins, UMV board chairman, said the move was strictly financial. The UMV South Campus, and its sister facility, the North Campus, 2101 James Street, have been in a state of financial crisis that came to light in June, when a number of employee paychecks bounced. Since then, former President and CEO Paula McKnight has resigned, and the Illinois Department of Public Health has issued scathing reports, mostly in regard to management's accounting practices.
"The reason for this decision to close South Campus is that it is no longer a financially viable operation and has contributed significantly to the precarious financial predicament that we face at the United Methodist Village," Cummins said. "This decision does not affect our North Campus or our independent living component of United Methodist Village."
Larry Minnix, a nursing care specialist from the Atlanta area, is donating his services to the UMV. The closing of the South Campus comes at his recommendation.
Reached this morning by telephone, Minnix said that economically, keeping the South Campus open "just does not work."
"Buildings outlive their purpose," he said. "They were attached to the South (Campus). Nobody really wanted to face up to the fact that it needed to close. That's because of all the personal connections involved."
Wesley said the South Campus employees should still have jobs with the company. There will be opportunities for most at the North Campus, which reportedly now has 55 to 60 residents.
"The employees of South Campus will be absorbed into the North Campus program where employment vacancies exist. Few, if any, employees will lose jobs," she said.
Reportedly, of the 16 patients living at the Cedar Street home, only a few would be able to be transferred to the North Campus location. About a dozen of those patients will need to be moved to a special unit that can facilitate patients who suffer from Alzheimer's Disease, and that's something not offered at the James Street facility.
According to the press release, closing the South Campus "is consistent with a national and state pattern of nursing home closures and consolidations as consumers have more options available to help them stay at home."
And, as has been the case since the trouble came to light, UMV continues to blame Medicaid for its woes.
"The State of Illinois Medicaid program is among the worst in the country in reimbursing the actual costs of care," the press release reads.
Minnix said the closing of the South Campus is a major step toward financial stability.
"I think when they get through these tough financial times they'll have to rethink their services," he said. "I think they could do more assisted living, because right now there seems to be more of a demand for that."
Brad Purcell, Vice Chairman of the UMV Board, is asking for continued public support as the company continues to try and dig out of the hole.
"United Methodist Village has served the area for over 100 years," he said. "The second facility, the Methodist Old Age Home, still stands as a boarded up symbol of inevitable change in needs and preferences by older people who cannot remain at home later in life. So, it is not surprising that the life of South Campus has come to an end. We ask the community to accept this change and we ask prayers for safe transition for those affected."