More Thoughts on Valley Hi

From former McHenry County Board member Ersel Schuster:

Valley Hi, located near the unincorporated town of Hartland.

Dear County Board Members:

In different capacities, I have for years participated in oversight of the McHenry County Valley Hi Nursing Home.

For these reasons, I believe I can speak with a well-rounded background/history on this subject.

Being up front, understand one critical, personal note.  I voted against the referendum.  I strongly believe government should never do what the private sector can.

Once the voters said they were willing to fund this facility, I have done everything in my power to uphold the voters’ decision.

That includes full support and willingness that the taxes I’ve contributed to this surplus fund, over about 40 years, be protected and carefully used only for the intended purpose.

1 – Currently, you are being asked “to rebate,” and/or, to use the facility’s surplus funds for “other” purposes.The facility is intended to care for those who have fallen on difficult times and unable to care for themselves.

2 – In nearly all cases, private sector nursing homes have not been able to support this population and stay in business.  Increasingly, the private sector is undermined when government forces them to undertake this service without a stable source of funds for these costs.

3 – The public was asked, via referendum, to tell the county board if they would fund Valley Hi by pledging to support a new facility, structural maintenance and financial shortfalls with their taxes.

The public said yes.

4 – Once the major projects were completed and bonds were paid off, and management changes were made, surplus funds began accumulating.

Look at the increase in money being squirreled away at Valley Hi, McHenry County’s nursing home.

  • Realizing the inability to manage the annual levy dollars without jeopardizing the levy, county board members began reaching out to legislators for assistance in addressing the issue.  \
  • Numerous attempts at reaching out to the one legislator able to assist us, failed.
  • Needed was controlling legislation to allow the levy to be adjusted as needed.

5 – Issues are compounded by the financial condition of the State of Illinois as reimbursement of Medicaid dollars have been precarious at best; further, that situation continues to deteriorate.

6 -Decisions/issues to be addressed:

  • Today, the ratio of “private pay” clients have partially subsidized annual operation costs for the home.  That issue must be addressed as private pay clients take beds from the intended client base and competes with non-subsidized nursing homes for private pay clients;
  • Consideration must be given to the growing number of those reaching the time in life when the need for these services increases.  Of additional concern is the growing indigent-dementia client base;

7 – All property owners/taxpayers who, for decades, have supported this facility, deserve a fair and upfront plan protecting these funds and could be assured of that by the following:

  • Place the total amount of surplus funds in a protected, interest bearing fund where dollars are available to fund and protect the facility;
  • Legally protect those funds from future politicians, preventing those funds from being used for purposes “other” than Valley Hi;
  • Eliminate the existing Valley Hi Tax Levy;
  • Designate the surplus funds for major structural and maintenance of the facility;
  • Designate the surplus funds for annual operation cost shortfall;
  • Once the surplus funds have been used, ask voters for their direction.

In conclusion:

Local politicians failed in getting the attention of state legislators to correct the issues surrounding this levy process.

We are now faced with the glaring results of that incompetence.

Look closely at the original intent for the operation in providing for, and protecting, those less fortunate.

Illinois is not facing a financial upswing as some may believe… it is rapidly heading downward.

It is now up to this board to look years into the future and to make solid decisions protecting what the taxpayers have approved and paid.

Don’t be swayed by quick fixes that accomplish nothing more than to create mis-leading headlines.

Be swayed by the intent of Valley Hi Nursing Home.

Thank you for your consideration.

Ersel C Schuster


More Thoughts on Valley Hi — 8 Comments

  1. Original intent at VH is irrelevant, how VH actually operates is what matters to taxpayers and voters.

    1. VH does not operate to serve indigent/needy population of McHenry County.
    By law, because the facility accepts public funds, it must serve residents from any County.
    The bed mix, to my knowledge, has never been predominantly Medicaid.

    2.Valley Hi courts Centegra as a “feeder” of (‘profitable’, if Medicare) post-surgical patients, but at last analysis Centegra was parcelling out such transfers like Blagojevich, so VH revenues have dropped.

    3. Medicaid is reimbursed by the federal government.
    While it seems common knowledge that Illinois is bankrupt and doesn’t pay its bills (aside from public worker pensions), at last analysis VH has not suffered from failure to collect Medicaid payments.

    3. Any VH tax levy for the past decade while this surplus exists has been illegal in that it is “excess accumulation”.
    (Excess accumulation is taxation in excess of 2-3 times prior year’s operating expenses, or taxation if reserve funds are in excess of 2-3 times operating expenses).
    Taxpayer Objection lawsuits recover
    full amount of VH levy with half going to the attorney.

    4.At last analysis, a few years ago, VH had been operating at a profit/or/breakeven for several years. The board was facing pressure because of that.
    The board decided to spend more so that VH would be shown to operate at a deficit.

    That’s when I gave up on going to VH board meetings.

  2. 5. Last i checked, VH charges the lowest day rate of any local longterm care facility,
    but has in my opinion the highest quality care, services, and ambiance of all.

  3. It is improper for any government entity to have in reserves more than 1.5 times operating capital.

    Government bodies are not corporations which make profits and have retained earnings.

    In answer to Mr. Walkup’s question of how to allocate the refund given many people come and go, you do what many class action settlements do, you put money in a protected account and publish the settlement for people to apply.

    County has all the real estate records not difficult.

  4. Fantastic input Susan & David!

    Now that we have exposed several pieces of this puzzle, the most difficult part remains… what is the best way to correct the past problems created by “everyone” involved?

    Feeding lawyers and accounts with our tax dollars rather than ensuring the facility’s long-term viability is less than comforting and, frankly, a disservice to those who have paid into this fund.

  5. Don’t want to recalculate all this Valley Hi minutia.

    But I would like to see the gang of brainless lizards, that originally concocted this entire fiasco.

    Have a bucket of starving bubonic plague infected rats, duct taped over their faces.

  6. Great solution, David.

    That way it goes back to rightful owners.

    Those who were overtaxed a little.

    I also like Dr Rein’s idea of improving Valley Hi with a memory care unit.

    Also would like to see Valley Hi only serve those in our county instead of opening it up to whomever!

    And definitely no checks going out with letterhead or name of any politician!!!


  7. Re: “Also would like to see Valley Hi only serve those in our county instead of opening it up to whomever!”

    To accomplish that Valley Hi would have to eliminate all Medicare and Medicaid patients.

    Actually that would quickly eat up the surplus!

  8. i WISH TO EXPRESS MY appreciation and compliment Ersel Schuster, report and comments on the Valley Hi history.

    i have witnessed the history where the County had to subsidize the operation for many years, and then was successful in turning around the operation to be a successful and profitable operation for those in need.

    It was due to the successful operation that a certain surplus was achieved, for which they should be praised, and not penalized.

    Allegedly, any purpose for use of the surplus funds should remain for the benefit of the Valley Hi home for its original intended use.

    considering that our population is getting older and more people are having problems with dementia i would suggest an additional wing be constructed to accommodate an additional 40 beds.

    i believe it would be counterproductive, confusing and expensive to make any payouts to tax payers.

    the need to accommodate our citizens will continue and i’d like to suggest that a commission be formed to provide financial help to those in need, for them to be given financial assistance to remain in their homes with a caregiver.

    Such a program could partner with journey care or hospice to provide for the economical needs of those needing assistance.

    Additional sources of assistance could be from the Township and the County agency and programs already working that regard.

    Finally a program to reduce the Real estate taxes, especially in regard to the assessment for schools, should be considered for anyone 65 yrs. old and beyond.

    Most citizens have supported the schools during their lifetime, and are now in survival mode where they need that money for meds.

    care and assistance to have a healthy and comfortable life without pain and suffering.

    I would like to add that i have experienced the superior service and accommodations at Valley Hi, when my wife was a short term resident while recovering from surgery.

    The citizens from McHenry County absolutely need a successful operation as provided by Valley Hi.

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