Rehabilitate health board

January 8, 2014 

BND

O'Fallon and Shiloh leaders recently spoke about the lack of a nursing home to serve their combined 40,000 residents. It is not for a lack of interest by those who risk their money on nursing homes, it is because the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board will not issue a certificate saying there is a need for the beds.

Delmar Gardens for nearly a decade has owned a 17-acre plot in O'Fallon. O'Fallon Mayor Gary Graham said the state board won't even talk about the company's $25 million proposal with a potential payroll of $25 million.

Delmar Gardens facilities are not the types of places you need to worry about urine and disinfectant smells overwhelming you as disinterested staff drag wheelchair-bound seniors down the halls. They are the types of places you'd like to go on vacation.

If they came to O'Fallon it would be to operate a facility that takes seniors from assisted living to full-service nursing home care -- a popular option that eases transitions for seniors.

So why should the state have a say in whether a new place wants to build?

Since 1974 the board has existed to control health care costs by making sure health facilities do not overbuild. The recent reality was that the board was a bed of corruption, with Tony Rezko and others selling influence over multi-million- dollar board decisions.

Graham said the board is political, and that's probably true. Avoiding competition is preferred by those already in business, but creating it is good for consumers.

There was a recent reform movement, and supposedly there's a new attitude at the state board since the corruption scandal.

Delmar Gardens may want to revisit this issue. Graham and state lawmakers would be wise to push for this $25 million development while guarding against the facilities board members returning to their pay-to-play ways.

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