There’s a documentary from a few years ago that shows how skilled, practiced negotiators from large retail companies have turned fleecing town officials into an art form. They make a lot of verbal promises and wave around a big check. Soon the local businesses are out of business, and everyone in town is working for minimum wage.
It’s pretty clear that the Vermilion County Board never saw the movie, or they might not be left looking foolish. On June 26th, the board voted 23-1 to sell the Vermilion Manor Nursing Home to FNR Healthcare Group. The Board Chairman was hoping for a unanimous vote to inspire confidence in the nursing home staff, residents, and families.
One month later, the same Board Chairman who wanted a unanimous approval for the sale told the News Gazette that it was a “complete shock” to hear that 39 employees of the nursing home would be fired immediately. That’s nearly 1/3 of the entire workforce.
Board officials acknowledged that they were duped by FNR Healthcare Group’s promises. FNR Healthcare Group also promised an immediate $2 million dollars in upgrades to the facility, but if the fired workers averaged a mere $25,000 in annual salary, the nursing home will make up that $2 million in just two years.
Families with loved ones in Vermilion Manor should be aware that this is a very dangerous time. It’s standard procedure for for-profit ownership to immediately fire all of the most experienced and longest tenured workers. There are two reasons for this. First, it eliminates the highest paying positions. Second, it discourages any other staff from complaining about conditions.
Medicare and Medicaid provide most of the income for the majority of nursing homes in Chicago and the rest of the country. They set the prices. There are two ways for one nursing home to make significantly more money than another nursing home. First, drastically increase the costs of care to the wealthier families who aren’t on Medicare/Medicaid. Obviously, providing the high quality of care that will attract this demographic requires lots of staff and services.
The other way to make more money is by cutting staff and services and hiring people who are willing to work for the bare minimum. It seems that this is the favored path of FNR Healthcare Group.
Times of high staff turnover are when residents are at the greatest risk of nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse. If you have a loved one in Vermilion Manor (now named Garden View Manor), this would be a good time to dramatically increase the number of visits you make, and take careful stock of your loved one’s condition.