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Judge extends temporary restraining order against Cairo nursing home operator
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Aperion Care

Judge extends temporary restraining order against Cairo nursing home operator

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Aperion Care last week notified employees at its Cairo facility that the company is looking at the possibility it will be closing the nursing home — the only one in Cairo. An Alexander County judge on Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order barring the nursing home from involuntarily relocating residents for at least 10 days.

CAIRO — An Alexander County judge on Thursday extended a temporary restraining order barring Aperion Care Cairo from carrying out its closure plan until it has fulfilled all of its obligations to residents under the law.

After the nursing home announced its intention to close last week, some families complained to Alexander County State’s Attorney Zach Gowin that they felt rushed to select alternative placements for their loved ones, especially amid a pandemic.

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Illinois law requires private nursing homes planning to close to first submit a transition plan to the Illinois Department of Public Health for approval. Upon receiving IDPH approval, the nursing home must provide notices to residents and their representatives outlining their rights during the closure process and timeline.

In a filing last week, Gowin accused Aperion Care of attempting to circumvent the law and pressure residents to move quickly by insinuating that a closure was imminent. In one case, a resident was asked to move 150 miles away to a Metro East nursing home battling an extensive COVID-19 outbreak.

Last week, Judge Jeffery Ferris immediately approved a 10-day temporary restraining order against Aperion Care pending Thursday’s court hearing. On Thursday, Farris extended the restraining order until which time IDPH approves the closure plan and residents receive all communication that is required under the law. IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said the agency has received notice from the facility that it is closing, but she was unable to immediately provide additional details.

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At a minimum, Gowin said, the extension of the restraining order, and Aperion’s commitment to follow Illinois law with its closure, will buy families some time while they navigate an uncertain future.

The nursing home will have to stay open for at least 60 days upon notifying residents. During that time, residents and their representatives have an ability to appeal transfer or discharge orders to the state.

Aperion Care General Counsel Fred Frankel did not immediately return a phone call to The Southern following Thursday’s hearing in Cairo. He previously told The Southern that Aperion Care would comply with all requirements in state law for closure of the facility. “While this (temporary restraining order) may delay it or change our time frame, it’s not going to, unfortunately, change the outcome,” he said at the time. About 50 residents are currently living in the nursing home. Frankel cited poor Medicaid reimbursement rates in Illinois, and trouble keeping the nursing home full and staffed with registered nurses as driving factors in the decision to close. Aperion Care purchased the facility only about two years ago in a package deal that included several other facilities. Frankel said the facility was in poor condition when the company acquired it.

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Gowin said he was disappointed to learn that Aperion Care would be closing Cairo’s only nursing home, but considers the initial restraining order and its extension “a victory for the residents and their families.”

Ultimately, he can’t make the company change its mind. But he said it is important that Aperion Care follow all the rules and that residents and their families feel they have some time to make an informed decision about where they move.

Meanwhile, Gowin said he also remains hopeful that the nursing home may continue to serve residents into the future, even if under a different name. “Efforts are being made by many groups, including the Laborers’ Local 773, to find a solution and keep this facility in our community,” he said.

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molly.parker@thesouthern.com

618-351-5079

On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI ​

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