CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — One group is calling out the companies that plan to buy the Champaign County Nursing Home because they say there’s something shady behind the deal.
There’s a meeting Tuesday morning that could move the sale along. It’s expected to close by the end of November. In May the county board approved a bid from Extended Care Clinical and Altitude Health Services. But Champaign County Health Care Consumers is concerned because they say the nursing home won’t be owned by those approved companies.
They say it throws doubt and distrust into an already uncertain situation of the nursing home’s future.
They’re worried that the companies aren’t being transparent and that this creates a larger question of who will be accountable for maintaining the nursing home. The director Claudia Lennhoff says, “The county didn’t do its due diligence. It didn’t do things properly.”
After filtering through the paperwork CCHCC says they noticed something disturbing. Three new companies would own the nursing home if the sale becomes final: University Rehab Real Estate, University Rehabilitation Center of CU, and Altitude Acquisitions. Those aren’t the ones the board approved.
Lennhoff says, “The purchase agreement dated August 1, 2018 is actually between the county and Altitude Acquisitions LLC.” If the county wants to sell the nursing home, they have to get a “certificate of need” by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services review board.
Through the documents submitted in that application, they also found other information. Lennhoff says, “Altitude Acquisitions is an entirely new company that was not presented to the county board or to the public and was created after the county board voted to sell the nursing home.”
The review board asked the company owners why the purchase agreement is with Altitude Acquisitions but the applicants are the University Rehab companies. Lennhoff says, “The response they got was Altitude Acquisition is a placeholder entity and will go away.” That’ll happen once the sale goes through.
CCHCC says the county was unaware of this switch. Lennhoff says, “The chair of the county board and a couple of county board members were taken by surprise by this news.”
The county board chair told WCIA he had no comment. But CCHCC had a lot to say about their disappointment and skepticism of the potential buyers. Lennhoff says, “At the very worst this could represent a bait and switch scheme. At the best it might represent playing fast and loose with the actions taken by the county board. But either way the consequences for Champaign County residents will be long term.”
The review board will meet Tuesday morning at 9:00 to either approve, deny or delay the “certificate of need” to move the sale forward. CCHCC will be there to share their opposition.
WCIA reached out to the owners to ask them why they made these changes, but has not received a reply.
If the “certificate of need” is granted, the next step would be for the company to submit an application to the Department of Public Health for permission to operate the nursing home.