Valley Hi’s Future

Valley Hi Nursing Home

Valley Hi Nursing Home

Below are the August 4th County Board minutes of the discussion of hiring a consultant to made recommendations on the future of Valley Hi.

The County nursing home, an enterprise account (meaning it is separate from other parts of McHenry County government), has over $41 million in the bank, yet the County Board is on track to tax property owners another $3 million next year. The annual budget, which pretty much breaks even, is $10-11 million a year.

The County Finance Committee is going to take a separate vote on whether to continue taxing real estate owners, despite the enormous surplus.

At the bottom of this post are the phone numbers of the members of the Finance Committee, whom I hope you will call with your opinion.

Minutes on Valley Hi Discussion on Valley Hi Market Demand Analysis

A motion and a second was made to approve the above-named Resolution.

Chairman [Joe] Gottemoller asked for any discussion.

Diane Evertsen

Diane Evertsen

Ms. [Diane] Evertsen asked how many empty beds Valley Hi generally has and if we have the authority to promote alternative uses from what the tax payers voted on.

She said Valley Hi exists because the tax payers voted to support a nursing home for the residents of McHenry County.

Mr. [Tom] Annarella responded on average Valley Hi has about four open beds a day.

On taking people from McHenry County only, the SAO has opined twice that as long as we participate in Medicaid admissions have to be open to the State of IL and as long as we participate in Medicare admissions have to be open to anyone in the country.

Mr. Annarella said the scope of this project is to look at what needs are not being met that we can do already within the confines of their facility i.e. programming specific to Dementia or otherwise which do not go beyond the scope of the tax levy.

They are not looking to build more buildings or add employees to the payroll.

Mr. [Ken] Koehler agreed with the need for this analysis.

Ken Koehler

Ken Koehler

As someone who sits on the boards of healthcare facilities, there have been a lot of changes going on thanks in part by Obamacare and a lot has to do with population health which he feels is a good concept.

He feels it’s important to do this study because we’re not only looking at the care of Valley Hi residents but all those in McHenry County who may need the services.

Donna Kurtz

Donna Kurtz

Ms. [Donna] Kurtz agreed with Mr. Koehler and asked about the issue of non-county residents being at Valley Hi at any given time.

Mr. Annarella said currently there is one non McHenry County resident in Valley Hi who has been there for 15 plus years. They came to Valley Hi because of a unique ability to being able to provide care for a special need that doesn’t necessarily meet the norm of long term care.

At any given time since he’s been there has only been two non county residents on the case load.

He said with long term care you are going to reside in a long term facility that is either in your town or in the town of your primary power of attorney so that they can get to and from the nursing home quickly and be able to visit.

It’s not a common thing to have out of county residents at Valley Hi.

John Hammerand

John Hammerand

Mr. [John] Hammerand asked if the funding that Valley Hi receives through the referendum is an acceptable to use for this study.

If the study shows other recommended uses that are not in the verbiage that was used in the referendum are they allowed.

Chairman Gottemoller responded that we don’t know what those things are because nothing has been identified and the SAO would be giving a legal opinion on if we would be allowed to use those funds for a certain purpose, not Valley Hi.

Wheeler, Chuck sitting facing right fingers togetherMr. [Chuck] Wheeler asked about the waiting list for available beds.

Mr. Annarella said part of the vacancy that they may have is because a resident is in the hospital so they’re not on the case load but by state regulation they can’t fill their bed with another person.

Their bed is placed on bed hold; if their private pay they get a small fraction of the daily rate to pay for the holding of the bed; if they’re Medicaid there is no payment for the bed hold but is must be held.

A bed might be available because of an isolation case.

Because Valley Hi was designed with only five private rooms if a resident must be in isolation they can tie up two beds for a short period of time.

In relation to occupancy per day Valley Hi is by far higher than the state average and McHenry County average.

The waiting list must work within case mix, i.e. 80/20/20 or 80 Medicaid beds, 20 Medicare and 20 private which leaves 8 beds in flux.

Those attending the last Valley Hi Operating Board meeting.

Those attending the last Valley Hi Operating Board meeting.  Three County Board members were in attendance.  John Heisler and Ken Koehler, who are members of the Operating Board.  Observing was County Board member Chuck Wheeler.

Other things are taken into consideration such as male/female or a patient who has been accepted but they haven’t been discharged yet.

Mr. Annarella said for the most part all of the beds are being spoken for in one way or another.

Mr. Wheeler asked what types of services we could offer if there are no beds available.

Mr. Annarella said one could be to transition to a certified Dementia and Alzheimer’s wing where with minor adjustments serve those patients under the State’s new guidelines.

Nick Provenzano

Nick Provenzano

We do currently provide care for those but if you move into that area there is a specific criteria with it’s own regulations.

Mr. [Nick] Provenzano asked if any studies from the private sector have been looked at.

Mr. Annarella said that a Certificate of Need process to determine bed availability or need is not public knowledge. He does know that a project was approved in the Huntley area but it has not been started yet.

The Certificate was issued about two years ago.

The things being looked at recently in our area have been specific to skilled care.

Mr. Koehler said that Alzheimer’s and Dementia is a very expensive area to be supplying care in and things are not being built because people aren’t getting Federal money to do it.

= = = = =
First, call the members of the Finance Committee (which are no longer listed in the County Clerk’s Yearbook):

  • Mike Skala, Chmn – 847-669-3804 or 847-417-4323
  • Jim Heisler, VC – 815-459-1971 or 815-459-0171
  • Yvonne Barnes – 847-516-2719
  • Mary McCann – 815-568-1961 or 815-245-9282
  • Nick Provenzano – 815-355-8540
  • Larry Smith – 815-353-8043
  • Chuck Wheeler – 847-354-3693 or 815-307-8525

All of the County Board members’ phone numbers can be found here.


Valley Hi’s Future — 13 Comments

  1. Valley Hi is one of the best run Nursing homes in the State.


    Tom Annarella.

    There is an issue about collecting tax dollars which are not needed at this time.


    Suspend the tax until you need it.

    The fear that if you quit collecting it and then want to start up again is total hogwash.

    If Valley Hi runs out of funds, I guarantee the County Board will fund it from the general fund.

    Insofar as this study, more hogwash. J

    ust another way to spend our hard-earned tax dollars!

    The Valley Hi tax is one of the reasons people leave the County;

    another one is the 708 Board tax;

    another one is the wasteful spending of tax dollars used to pay for a Conservation District Police force;

    another one is the wasteful spending on transit service in the County (both by the Townships and the County);

    another one is the use of tax dollars for bike paths;

    maybe the main reason is the dysfunctional Democrat controlled legislature in Springfield which refuses to reduce its spending – those people are not only leaving McHenry County, they leave the State.

    Go ahead and ‘dump’ on Rauner but at least he is attempting to slow down the State brain and labor drain.

    There is a reason enrollment in Illinois State universities and colleges is down – our children don’t want to live here!

    This morning the Debt Clock shows Illinois has a population of 12,891,656 with 2,021,902 people using Food Stamps.

    The State spending rate is at 130 BILLION while the State Revenue rate is 106 Billion.

    To use a favorite word of the ‘Progressives’ – that is not sustainable!!

    I know, tax the rich and the corporations to expedite their migration elsewhere

  2. Cautious.

    You are right about Tom.

    He is a standout public employee.

    However, you cannot suspend the tax until you need it.

    That is the problem.

    If you do that you lose the ability to resume collecting it later due to the tax cap legislation.

    Cal had an excellent suggestion to try to get special legislation passed that would only apply to McHenry County, and only for the nursing home, that would allow us to go back and collect the money should it be needed at later date.

    This was DOA in the GA.

    Right now the state is not paying so you can see the need to have some type of a reserve.

    It does not need to be nearly as large as it has become but that’s what we have despite lowering the levy substantially in successive years.

    This is again thanks to Tom’s administrative skills.

    Now we have a couple of questions.

    It was suggested that we should stop the Medicare and private pay patients from coming in.

    However, this is not as easy as it sounds as someone can start out in one pay program and wind up in another later on.

    There is then the question of whether or not some new facility or service could be provided and whether or not that would be consistent with the original referendum.

    We checked into that last year and my recollection is that the referendum was generally worded although there will need to be a State’s Attorney interpretation.

    Should we just count on that or should we do a new referendum given the changed economic climate, that would probably just be advisory, to ask the voters again, if they want expanded services to be offered?

    I would doubt that the county general fund could, or would, be tapped.

    There is no reason to do that.

    Input here would be welcome.

  3. Mike, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments on many issues.

    You research and give good information.

    Solid information is so valuable and blesses transparency.

  4. If the huge surplus were spent down because no taxes were levied, another referendum could be run.

    It is my belief that County Board members continue to overtax us because they do not think they could pass another referendum.

    Of course, it could be a decade or more until the surplus is exhausted and economic conditions do change.

  5. Mike: Just why can we not eliminate the tax and support Valley Hi (IF NECESSARY) from the General Fund?

  6. 2002 Valley Hi referendum:




    WHEREAS~ the McHenry County Valley Hi Committee has, in consideration of the growing financial needs of the Valley Hi Nursing Home, recommended that the McHenry County Board consider placing the question of an additional property tax
    before the voters of McHenry County; and

    WHEREAS, it was the recommendation of that Committee that pursuant to 55 ILCS 5/5-21001 of the Counties Code that the Board certify the question of levying such a tax to the proper election officials who shall submit the question to the voters at an election to be held in November of2002; and
    WHEREAS, said proposition shall be substantially in the following form:

    Shall McHenry County be authorized to levy and collect a tax at a rate not to exceed .1% for the purpose of building, maintaining and operating a county nursing home? YES__ NO__

  7. Vh could be supported (ifnecessary) by General fund as cautious suggests, as it was prior to referendum.

  8. the point about visiting-relative proximity being a praactical barrier to ‘non-mchenry county’ resident applicants is valid to some degree.

    We all just have to hope that out-of-county transfers due to profitable placement outside native tax border boundaries doesn’t become popular (a la Lakewood tif).

    Ironically, New mchenry county residents represent the turnover of population occurring as ‘old’ mchenry county residents were taxed out of their homes and forced to sell at foreclosure pricing.

  9. Valley Hi is just one example of County government being in a business it has no business being in.

    There are plenty of beds in private facilities to soak up Valley Hi demand and if not the private sector will take care of it with proper incentives; the main incentive being County government to quit the business.

    If County government wants to be in this business, wouldn’t it be cheaper just to provide every patient who qualifies with a McHenry County taxpayer subsidy of $50,000.00 to $100,000.00.

    Not only do taxpayer lose taxfunds down the Valley Hi sinkhole but County government loses the opportunity of increased taxation from the private sector which does the business of elderly care much cheaper and better.

    What is coming down the road (5 years or less) is the suburban bail-out of insolvent Chicago and CPS.

    Unlike Detroit, there is a law which prohibits Chicago and CPS from filing for bankruptcy protection.

    Better tighten the belts now McHenry County, Chicago’s coming!

    By the way, where are those McHenry County super-conservative Republican Board voices we heard in the election on this issue?

  10. Cautionous and Susan: To use only the General Fund risks having to fund unknown and unpredictable shortfalls due to issues with the state funding.

    Although VH operates close to break even when everything is going right, we can’t know in advance what each year will bring, this year being a case in point.

    If we use Cal’s option, what happens when all of the funds are spent down if a new referendum fails?

    Do we sell the place?

    Although privatization is always an option, and was discussed a bit last year, do we want to be forced into a corner where that is the only thing we can do or do we want to control our own destiny?

  11. Mike you haveto back up scary ‘what if’s’ with numbers based on gaap rationale.

    Worst case scenario: 128 bed county full census, zero revenue.

    That presumes that Every single nursing home in Illinois is also receiving zero Medicaid revenue.

    At full ‘non-emergency’ operating costs, vh would need $11 million per year.

    (Without redirecting general funds, The surplus would be spent down in 5 years.)

    The senior services funds that were voted in by referendum in 2003 couldrightfully be diverted to fund emergency need at vh.

    This year that senior services money was $1.7 million, that would supply almost 20% of vh operating budget.

    If Medicaid stops payments for five years, we will all have time to rethink our spending priorities.

  12. Mike Walkup: Re: “do we want to control our own destiny?”


    We want you and others in government to lower our property tax without increasing fees and other taxes!

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