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WQAD.com

RICo Board weighing four options for Hope Creek

Rock Island County Board members are prepared to vote next week on the future of Hope Creek Care Center, the county-owned nursing facility in East Moline.

Rock Island County Board members are prepared to vote next week on the future of Hope Creek Care Center, the county-owned nursing facility in East Moline.

At a special meeting Thursday, January 15, 2015, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee Steve Meersman presented the full board with four options for the cash-strapped nursing home.

“Every one of them is a change in our existing governance of Hope Creek Home,” said Meersman.

The first option would involve forming an independent board to oversee Hope Creek. The county would retain ownership and a management board would be created, made up of community members with backgrounds in healthcare, finance, marketing, and insurance, as well as a labor representative and a county board member from each party.

The second option would also use a community governing board, but that board would hire an outside management company to run day-to-day operations.

Option three would be to lease the facility.

The final option is to sell it. Independent property advisers from brokerage firm Marcus and Millichap have valued the home at $25-27.5 million.

Thursday night’s meeting lasted nearly three hours, as accountants, union representatives, and healthcare management companies answered questions from the board and public.

Miguel Morga, a staff representative for AFSCME Council 31, said labor favors options one and two, both of which would keep Hope Creek workers county employees. He said the union is willing to make compromises, though, to cut nearly $1.4 million from payroll expenses.

“That’s a reduction in starting wages, and that’s gonna be tough. Also, these are going to be positions that are gonna go on unfilled, and that’s going to be tough,” said Morga.

Board members must decide, though, if those cuts are deep enough to achieve long-term financial stability.

In November, voters narrowly rejected a tax levy increase that would have raised nearly $3.2 million for the operation of Hope Creek. Fifty-one percent of people voted against the proposal, while 49 percent voted for it.

The board is expected to vote on an option for Hope Creek at its next regular meeting on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.

For more of our coverage of Hope Creek Care Center, click here.