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After promising to run the former Champaign County Nursing Home for at least ten years, its owner has filed plans to close it after five.

University Rehabilitation Center of C-U in Urbana, photographed in 2020, shortly after its sale by Champaign County to an Evanston-based company headed by William "Avi"Rothner. Plans were filed with state regulators this week to close the facility.

URBANA – The owner of the former Champaign County Nursing Home has filed plans with state regulators to close the facility in two months, despite an agreement with the county to operate it as a nursing home for at least another five years.

The Illinois Department of Public Health confirms that a closure plan has been filed for University Rehabilitation Center of C-U, located on the east side of Urbana.

“We will be working with the facility until their effective closing date of June 17, 2023, to ensure the safety of all their residents during the closing process and that they are provided options for obtaining care at other facilities in the area,” said IDPH spokesman Mike Claffey.

An Evanston-based company headed by nursing home operator William “Avi” Rothner bought the Champaign County Nursing Home in 2019. The transaction included a covenant requiring Rothner to continue operating the facility as a 220-bed nursing home at least until 2028, with at least 50% of its beds reserved for Medicaid patients.

But Rothner says University Rehab, as it’s commonly known, is losing money and operating far below capacity.

Rothner asked the Champaign County Board last October and again in March to let him out of their agreement. He wants to close the nursing home operation, and sell the building to a new owner who would use it for an addiction treatment center. To date, the county board has refused to consider Rothner’s request.

County Board Chairman Kyle Patterson says the area needs to keep University Rehab’s nursing beds. Rothner argues that the area has the capacity to take in University Rehab’s current patients. But Patterson says closing the nursing home would leave the area unprepared for an increase in demand for nursing home care that he expects to see in coming years.

“I do know that the baby boomers are coming, in regards to increasing populations in the near future in nursing homes,” said Patterson. “It’ll be a shame if we’re in a situation where a lot of people have to go to nursing homes that are outside of their community.”

Patterson says county officials will discuss the matter with legal counsel before deciding their next move.

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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