The Lake County Board approved a contract with Health Dimensions Group (HDG) to take over the management and operations of Winchester House, Lake County's skilled nursing facility in Libertyville. Lake County will continue to maintain ownership and oversight of the facility.
In making its decision, county board members cited HDG's experience operating 22 skilled nursing facilities in four states, and specific experience acquiring and operating county nursing facilities, as well as HDG's performance outcomes and high satisfaction ratings from residents and families.
"This decision preserves the long-standing mission of Winchester House, which is to provide a safety-net for Lake County residents who need long-term nursing care," County Board Chairman David Stolman said. "HDG has a strong record of transitioning county owned facilities to privately managed facilities seamlessly, and retaining existing employees during that transition process."
The action was based on a recommendation from the Winchester House Advisory Board, which consists of individuals with healthcare and financial expertise, and two members of the county board. Their extensive analysis showed that the current financial model was not sustainable due to cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, and a higher wage/benefit structure than the private market, resulting in Winchester House losing its position in the marketplace. Therefore, the advisory board recommended transitioning to a county-owned, privately managed facility enabling Winchester House to operate more effectively in the marketplace, reduce costs, and preserve the mission.
It's estimated the change will save the County about $1.5 million annually, even with the debt service of a new facility. Winchester House is funded by a property tax levy (approved by voters in 1982), reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, and private payments from residents. The current facility dates back to the 1940's and is in need of costly upgrades and repairs.
"We are honored to have been selected for this opportunity," said Craig Abbott, CEO of Health Dimensions Group. "We recognize that Winchester House is a special place for many people and we will work hard to maintain its long and distinguished history of care. We also look forward to a strong partnership with Lake County - one that ensures Winchester House remains a wonderful home for residents and workplace for the staff who care for them."
The county board vote to approve the contract was 15 to eight.