WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WTVO) — Winnebago County’s Medicaid- friendly nursing home will soon accept patients from other parts of the Stateline. County board members say the change comes after a number of residents outside county lines were denied services, despite the facility’s vacancy.

“Our county nursing homes are the ones that take care of Medicaid, other nursing homes don’t,” Angie Goral said at a Winnebago County Board meeting Thursday. She serves on the River Bluff Nursing Home advisory board. The facility will soon welcome residents from other areas– offering nursing and rehabilitation services including Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

“This is something that should have gone on a long time ago,” said Goral. “We have to remember we’re in a changing world right now, and we have parents, relatives that have retired to other states and now they’ve become ill, they’ve lost a partner, they want to come back.”

The board passed a resolution to admit out of county residents to River Bluff, starting this week.
Personnel and Policies Committee Chair Dave Fiduccia says there is plenty of room, with over half of available beds empty.

“We have a capacity of 300 beds, but basically 268 of them are going to be usable,” said Fiduccia. “Right now, I don’t think our population is over 100.”

River Bluff is currently only open to Winnebago County residents. The nursing home’s administrator says neighboring facilities outside county lines have already expressed interest.

“We had a call to take up to 30 residents from Stephenson County, we couldn’t do it,” said Patricia McDiarmid, River Bluff administrator. “Even in emergent situations, I couldn’t help out another county nursing home to place these people.”

The change could also have a financial impact.
Board members hope more River Bluff residents will mean increased funds for Winnebago County.

“River Bluff will probably never be a profit-maker, but right now we’re really straining the county on cash so we need to take some steps to move forward to at least come to a break even point,” said Fiduccia.

Board members say moving forward, Winnebago County residents will always take priority over neighboring applicants.