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Nursing homes file suit to stop rival's expansion

Three nursing homes have gone to court to stop two projects that would bring new competition to the western suburbs.

Community Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Naperville, The Springs at Monarch Landing in Naperville and Bria Health Services in Westmont filed two lawsuits last week challenging recent state approvals of proposals by a new rival, Transitional Care Management, to open facilities in Lisle and Aurora.

The projects have been controversial in the nursing home industry because Transitional Care only wants to treat patients who were hospitalized but need short-term rehabilitative therapy before they go home. The Lisle-based company opened its first facility in Arlington Heights last year. Nursing homes traditionally offer both short-term and long-term care for sick patients.

The three companies opposed the projects in Lisle and Aurora as they were being reviewed by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, which oversees construction of health care facilities to make sure there is public need. They argued that Transitional Care's facilities weren't needed because they and other nursing homes in the western suburbs already provide short-term rehab services. Another concern was that Transitional Care would undermine their economic viability because short-term rehab patients are more profitable than those who need long-term care and are often on Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor.

Despite the dissent, the health facilities board approved both projects at a meeting last month, each by a 6-3 vote.

The suits allege that the projects will not meet the need for more nursing home beds in DuPage County because the state board didn't consider the distinction between long-term beds for patients who are very sick and Transitional Care's focus on short-term rehab services. The nursing homes also allege that Transitional Care's projects don't fit within the current regulatory framework.

The suits were filed in DuPage County Circuit Court.

In a statement, the health facilities board said it "conducts a comprehensive review process for every application project that is filed ... the process is transparent, thorough, and seeks to provide board members with as much information about a project as possible."

The board added that "applications are considered based on the totality of the information contained in an application file, the information provided by applicants during their in-person presentation, public hearing testimony, public comments, and the state board staff report."

Brian Cloch, CEO of Transitional Care, declined comment because he hadn't read the suits.

Transitional Care goes before the state health board again Tuesday. The company recently acquired the Winchester House nursing home in Libertyville from Lake County. It seeks state approval to close the facility and build a $29.2 million,185-bed home in Mundelein, which would provide care to both short-term and long-term patients. To date, no one has opposed the project.

asachdev@tribpub.com

Twitter @ameetsachdev

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