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Board considers nursing home advisory committee

The Register-Mail - 9/27/2018

Sept. 26--GALESBURG -- The Knox County Board could soon create a volunteer committee to advise the county on the finances and operations of the Knox County Nursing Home.

The County Board's Nursing Home Committee is considering recruiting five to eight volunteers to serve on an advisory committee to help the county improve the financial stability of the nursing home. The advisory committee would guide both the Nursing Home Committee and the nursing home's staff on making decisions to advance the nursing home's success, including increasing the home's revenue or improving its marketing strategies.

The Nursing Home Committee would seek volunteers who have technical knowledge of finances in the medical field and in retirement communities, including how to correctly process insurance claims. The nursing home is working to recover $1.2 million in outstanding bills from individual insurance claims that the county's auditor found had not been processed correctly by nursing home staff.

Nursing Home Committee member David Amor, D-District 2, noted that at past meetings of the committee, committee Chairman Bob Bondi, R-District 2, and others noted that some of the financial issues at the nursing home "were really outside the skill set of many of the people on the committee."

"We can certainly see there's a problem and we've been trying to work with some outside people to assist, particularly in the billing side," Amor said. "It certainly wouldn't hurt to have people who have more expertise in this area to provide us with advice."

The advisory committee members also could be involved in selecting a new administrator for the nursing home. The county released former administrator Rachel Secrist from its employment in late July. Secrist held the position when the county's auditor discovered the $1.2 million in outstanding bills in March.

Bondi said the committee potentially could ask a county employee independent of the process, such as Knox County Clerk Scott Erickson, to accept applications for the position to then submit to the advisory committee for review. Once the advisory committee reviews the applications, the committee would make recommendations to the Nursing Home Committee about a potential candidate or candidates.

Amor drafted a summary of the qualities the committee could look for in volunteers, including individuals who have worked in nursing homes or retirement communities. The Nursing Home Committee will review the summary at its next meeting Monday, Oct. 15. If the committee approves the summary, the official creation of the advisory committee would go to the full County Board for approval at its Oct. 31 meeting. Bondi and Amor said they would like to see the advisory committee launched as soon as possible if the board agrees with its formation.

The idea to form an advisory committee is similar to the approach the County Board took in the formation process of the 708 Mental Health Board. The full board formed a Knox County Mental Health Advisory Committee in 2016 that recommended placing a 708 Mental Health Board on the April 2017 ballot, according to The Register-Mail's archives. Bondi envisioned the nursing home's advisory committee being similar to the Knox County Health Department'sBoard of Health, a group of medical experts that provides guidance and support to the health department's staff.

"We're really hoping to bring in some more expertise to assist both the committee and management in making whatever improvements need to be made," Amor said.

Donna Motz, interim director at the nursing home, declined to comment for The Register-Mail regarding the nursing home's financial status.

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(c)2018 The Register-Mail, Galesburg, Ill

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