During a county governance, health and administration meeting Monday morning, committee members went into closed session to discuss the offer for the county-owned nursing home at 4343 Kennedy Dr., East Moline. County officials declined to comment after the meeting, but loud arguing could be heard through closed doors during the session.
AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Union Representative Audie Schmidt confirmed the news on Monday during a press conference outside Hope Creek later that evening, saying "many board members" gave her the information.
"The offer for this facility is from Aperion Care, it is a for-profit outfit, and the price is $6 million," Schmidt said. "That's practically giving this facility away."
The county listed Hope Creek for $19 million in September, the amount needed to break even. The nursing home has $7.5 million in short-term loan debt and owes $12 million on the mortgage. Schmidt said the county paid $25 million to construct the facility in 2007.
"There are absolutely no (contract) protections for any employees and there are no protections for any of the residents that live in this facility, who call it home," Schmidt said. "$6 million — that's it. A number of board members have confirmed this to me verbally."
County board member Ed Langdon spoke briefly after the press conference. Langdon attended that morning's GHA committee meeting and is upset Aperion is the potential buyer.
"The residents out here get quality care and I'm afraid if we (monetize) Hope Creek nursing home, the loving care these patients are receiving now will deteriorate," Langdon said.
Langdon said there were other, lower offers on the facility, but would not confirm the $6 million offer from Aperion. He said county board members might vote on the sale during the Jan. 21 regular board meeting.
According to the The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Aperion Care averages a star rating of 1, with 5 being the highest, among all of its 34 Illinois facilities.
Locally, the East Moline facility, 430 S. 30th Ave., has a 1-star rating and has been cited and fined numerous times by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
In August, Aperion was fined $2,200 for incidences related to the abuse and neglect of more than one patient. In Jan. 2018, Aperion was fined $75,000 by the IDPH for the strangulation death of one patient and the escape of another. Those incidences alone were cited for 12 code violations.
Pam Skelton's mother and aunt are both residents at Hope Creek.
"I think it's shameful they would sell a building like this for $6 million. There is $6 million of equipment in there," Skelton said. "That makes no sense at all."
Skelton said she is not sure if she will move her family members to another facility if it is sold to Aperion.
"Are they going have a guarantee it's going to the same quality care that's here?" she said. "This is excellent care here. I have my mother-in-law in a private facility in another city, and she doesn't get near the level of care my mother gets here at Hope Creek."
Julie Young has worked as a rehab assistant for 22 years at the county nursing home and is a member of AFSCME.
"I'm scared about losing my job," Young said. "I have no job security; I'm an older employee. I don't know if I can get another job doing what I do. Most facilities do not have that kind of job anymore for restorative physical therapy.
"My mother-in-law has been here in private pay for three years. My daughter works here and she's worried about losing her job and she's been here for 13 years."
Sara Young is a charge nurse supervisor on second shift. She also is concerned about losing her job.
"We're both worried about it," she said. "Are they going to keep us? Are we going to get the same equal pay? Are we going to lose all of our benefits? We probably will. We worry about Aperion buying the facility. If that's the case, we might have to pull my grandmother out."
Julie Young said if she loses her job, she will take her mother-in-law home and take care of her herself.
Karen Decker, 82, has been resident at Hope Creek for two years. She also is worried at the prospect of Aperion taking over the facility.
"I really don't like it," Decker said. "They own another home here in the area and it is not a good home. It's not a clean home and I don't like it. These people are human beings and they have the right to live in cleanliness and not to be shoved into dirt where nobody else cares about them.
"I would love to have our home taken care of," Decker said. "We live here; we love it here. We work hard to keep it this way."
The purchase offer for Hope Creek may be discussed further at the county committee of the whole meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the county office building, 1504 3rd Avenue, Rock Island.