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Livingston Co. considers nursing home study

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PONTIAC - As nursing homes in Livingston County work together to face common problems, the county may give them a view of the future by conducting a marketing study for its own facility.

County Board Chairwoman Jeanne Rapp said the County Board may look into completing a marketing study to help decide what to do about replacing the county-owned Livingston Manor nursing home. The findings could help others in the nursing home business, she told members of the Pontiac Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday morning during an Issues and Eggs Breakfast.

"The County Board is not going to begin any kind of construction until all the facts are learned," she said. "The marketing study will help us and provide information to (the other homes)."

Leaders from nursing homes in the county have been meeting for the last few months, talking about declining resident numbers and the possible impact of new facilities coming to the area.

"We are all in the same boat," said Mark Hovern, president and CEO of Evenglow Lodge in Pontiac. "We all have similar problems and we can help one another out."

Hovern said the marketing study will give him and other administrators a look into the future, including the population and income trends.

While the county looks at building a new nursing home of its own, a 60-unit, supportive-living complex is being built in Pontiac by Northwest Illinois Holdings LLC of Rockford. Hovern said both will have an impact on existing businesses.

Over the last few months, the census at the county home has dropped.

Hovern said the same trend is being seen at other homes in the county.

"People are living longer and are healthier," Hovern said. "There are also more alternatives for people."

Rapp said there was a total of 80 empty nursing home beds in the county last fall, and now there are more than 100. She said the state average of occupancy also is down.

The declining census has caused the county-run home to operate with a budget deficit. She is expecting another loan of $100,000 will be made to the home.

"We hope the (decreasing) figures have stabilized," she said. "We'll have to keep on giving monthly shots of money into the home to support operations and payroll."

More than two years ago, voters in an advisory referendum overwhelming supported building a new county-owned home using landfill user fee money and a tax increase to cover the costs of operations.

Livingston Manor, which is south of Pontiac on Old Route 66, needs to be updated, officials say.

The facility, which was built in the 1960s, does not have city water, and many of the rooms do not have private bathrooms.

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