PEORIA COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — After being in the nursing home business for more than 170 years, Peoria County may be backing out. The board is considering closing Heddington Oaks Nursing Home in West Peoria, by the end of the year.
Peoria County residents said the timing is inconsiderate. Monday, Peoria County’s executive committee discussed the plan further, following the initial announcement on Friday.
Board members will take a vote Thursday at 6 p.m. during the regularly scheduled meeting. If they approve the resolution, Heddington Oaks residents could be forced to go their separate ways.
Eddie Jackson of Peoria said he was shocked to find out. He said his mother calls the facility home. “It’s like a family there, they have gotten to know one another,” Jackson said.
Nancy Ream of Hanna City said she has a friend who also lives in the nursing home. Ream said her friend loves it there, adding that the nurses take great care of her. Now Ream is concerned that thinking about a transition during the COVID-19 pandemic will further stress her friend and the other resident.
“I mean that’s their home so to find out that the place is going to be closed in the midst of a virus that there’s no vaccine for, that there’s really no cure for and his is the most susceptible group of people either elderly or compromised immune system, I mean where are they going to go?” Ream said.
The county board said the nursing home has become financially unmanageable. Scott Sorrel, Peoria County Administrator, said the call to close is in no way related to the pandemic. There are 214 beds available in the facility and only 140 are occupied, causing major financial strain on the county.
“Despite all best efforts, our inability to secure an average daily census or number of residents we have in the facility to meet the financial needs of the organization,” Sorrel said.
Rankings from Medicare.gov show Heddington Oaks has historically scored average to below average for quality of care. Also, multiple lawsuits have been filed against the nursing home in the past, costing the county more than $50,000.
“In the litigation that we’ve previously settled has had a negative impact on the finances absolutely, but nowhere near the impact of the loss of census has had,” Sorrel said. By census Sorrel means the lack of people occupying beds in the nursing home.
Voters have no say on whether Heddington Oaks shuts down. However, if board members vote to approve the resolution Thursday, voters can decide if the county puts the building up for sale.
Peoria County board members said if they do vote to close the nursing home no one will be kicked out right away. This early on they will be focusing on preliminary paperwork. They will also be helping residents find another nursing home to transition to in the area.