Champaign Co. Public Health announces advocacy group for nursing home care

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The need for nursing home beds is growing in Champaign County, and a new group has been finalized to fix the issue.

Experts said Champaign County is in a nursing home crisis. The closing of one home and the downsizing of another has removed almost 250 beds. Health care providers and community members met on Tuesday in an effort to solve the problem.

The Advocates for Nursing Home Care is a group made up of people who have personally struggled with finding care for family members. Cathy Emanuel is one of those people. She said the lack of nursing home beds in Champaign County is far worse than the rest of Illinois.

“We’re facing a deficit of 40% of the beds that we need,” Emanuel said. “Well, actually, in the rest of the state they have on average in excess of 17% of the beds. So we’ve got a problem in this community that’s not being faced by everybody.”

The problem is forcing families to look outside of the county for care.

“That family member has to make healthcare decisions for that resident, and they have to see them daily,” Emanuel said. “And if they’re in Springfield or Bloomington or Indianapolis, that’s a real hardship.”

The shortage is also a hardship on hospitals. Matt Nieukirk with OSF HealthCare said some people need rehabilitation after being hospitalized.

“It’s taking us a long time to get those patients out of the hospital and move to an appropriate facility,” he said.

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District said the county needs more than 700 beds, but there are currently only about 400 available.

“That’s just not enough to take care of the patients that are going to potentially need that type of care,” Nieukirk said.

The group has received $50,000 from the county and the CUPHD will help the ANHC find a solution. Emanuel said that the money will be crucial in looking for providers who can bring more beds to the community.

“This is so important because we want to make sure that this community is welcoming and providing a good living place for the elderly citizens in our community,” she said.

Emanuel said the next steps include taking an assessment and bringing in long-term care experts to do a market study, while also putting together a budget and business plan. They will then look for potential nursing home operators to open facilities in the county.

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