Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shut Bel-Wood Down? Not Hardly

One Peoria County Board member keeps telling other board members that the state will shut Bel-Wood down soon if sprinkler systems are not installed. Most probably not. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent out a Guidance to Surveyors rev.22,12-15-06 that states under section 483.70(a)(8)(i) and (11), A long term care facility must install an approved, supervised automatic sprinkler system in accordance with the 1999 edition of NFPA 13, 'Standard for the installation of Sprinkler Systems', as incorporated by reference, throughout the building by August 13, 2013'. (4 years from now)

According to a friend of mine who spent many years working for the State of Illinois, inspecting Bel-Wood more than 20 times, says as long as the state is notified the County has the plans to do the installation and is moving forward on the project is usually satisfactory. The worst scenario, he says, would be a fine.

His observations on his visitations to B-W were that most problems were not physical but were operational. He feels most of the problems will remain even if a new building is built). He also believes that retrofitting the building would be adequate and that it would not cost even $22 million, up to $27-$29 million now????. (The latest projected cost for a new B-W now up to is $41 million, $38 million would need to be borrowed)

As an almost 9 year veteran of the County Board and having served and serve now on the Health and Environmental Committee, I felt that we hired the wrong manager back in 2002 and said so over the strong recommendations of our administrator. He was gone in 3 1/2 years. Too late. No one was calling attention to our committee that the building was in terrible shape, and, by the way, why do the private pay and Medicare people stay there when their are 400 empty beds in the community (these figures from our B-W Administrator in March, 2009) if B-W is in such "bad condition"?

Seven months after our present administrator was hired, he was quoted in the JS on 12/30/2007, "By 2010, all health care facilities, including nursing homes, must have sprinklers". Not a true statement at all. He was also quoted in the same article as saying that B-W had 25 Life Safety Code violations issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health, yet we were not fined for these violations, but were fined for violations that evidently started in 2008 and in May the County Board was notified we were going to pay a $10,100.00 fine for violations at Bel-wood. He was also quoted that B-W had made a $1 million profit. Public facilities not not make "profits" when they are supported that year by $2,890,000 in property taxes, both direct and indirect.


Bel-Wood has a long history of "operational problems". There is no guarantee a new building will cause these problems to go away. B-W was recently fined $10,000 despite the fact that we installed a new B-W Administrator within the last two years.

The State of Illinois would close Bel-Wood and boot all the residences out are "scare tactics". Plus put them where? That's also why we have elected representatives in Springfield to act on the counties behalf. Look how quickly we got a new bill passed to allow the new "facility sales tax".

It was a miracle.


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