DeKalb County seeks resident applications for appointment to new nursing center oversight board

First members approved for new board meant to oversee DeKalb County nursing home

Rukisha Crawford, a Democrat from District 6, smiles after she and three others were approved to the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center oversight board on Jan.17, 2024.

SYCAMORE – The DeKalb County Board is seeking applications from members of the public for those interested in serving on a public board meant to oversee operations of the troubled DeKalb County Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

After establishing a new oversight board for the center at the end of 2023, the DeKalb County Board has approved bylaws and the first four members of the group meant to oversee the facility’s operations.

Members of the public interested in serving on the board – five will be chosen – can fill out an application at

According to DeKalb County documents, the county established the Rehab and Nursing Center Oversight Board with authority similar to the county’s departmental-level committees in order to carry out the functions and mission outlined in the freshly inked bylaws.

In 2022, the County Board was staunchly divided over what to do with the county’s rehabilitation facility. The long-term care center faced more than $7 million in debt at the time and was approved for an $8.3 million sale to a private buyer by the County Board that summer.

However, after intense scrutiny at a July 11 public hearing in DeKalb and a yearlong saga to procure state approval of the sale, the would-be buyers sought to back out of the sale contract by last October.

DeKalb County government then filed a lawsuit against the would-be buyers of the nursing home for dropping out of the contract. That lawsuit will be heard for the first time in front of Circuit Court Chief Judge Bradley Waller in February.

Since the contract failed, the County Board has unanimously approved financial plans for the facility and formed the oversight board. The bylaws for the board also were approved unanimously this week, and DeKalb County Administrator Brian Gregory said that’s no coincidence.

“You have to look back at the last several months as the board has worked together to work through the details. There’s been a lot of attention paid to trying to create an oversight board that really can help the DCRNC in its path forward,” Gregory said. “It continues to show good governance when the board can work together and come together, and the unanimous vote shows that.”

Nine individuals will have a seat on the new oversight board: a member from the County Board’s Health and Human Services Committee, a member from the Finance and Administration Committee, a County Board member at-large nominated from the Executive Committee, a member selected from and by the nursing center’s resident council, and five members of the public.

Four of those positions were approved Wednesday by the County Board to fill two-year terms expiring at the end of 2024.

Rukisha Crawford, a Democrat from District 6, was approved as the Health and Human Services Committee nominee for the oversight board; Jerry Osland, a Republican from District 12, was approved as the Finance and Administration Committee nominee; Rhonda Henke, a Republican from District 1, was approved for the at-large County Board member seat; and Abdul El-Jaml, who goes by Brother, was approved to fill the resident council’s slot on the board.

An ad-hoc nominating committee for the remaining positions will be seated by Republicans Savannah Ilenikhena and Kathy Lampkins, from Districts 5 and 2, respectively, and Democrats Christ Porterfield and Amber Quitno, from Districts 8 and 3, respectively.

Before the votes to approve those appointments, Steve Duchrow of DeKalb told the County Board that he applauded its recent efforts to be transparent with the public about the financial status and future of the troubled nursing center.

He asked for the public to be allowed input about which individuals are appointed to fill the remaining five seats on the oversight committee.

“A matter cannot be hidden and transparent – it must be one or the other. A matter can’t be both,” Duchrow said. “I would like these applications to be available, the process be available for the applicants so that we can all give you the input that would be valuable to you.”

The individuals who will fill the seats designated for the public on the oversight board will require approval from the County Board in a public vote.

Gregory said the county has received about 10 applications so far for the public seats on the oversight board. According to the board’s bylaws, those members of the public could be family of residents at the facility or individuals with expertise in health care, finances and accounting, or in the legal field.

Gregory said he’s hoping individuals with experience working in relevant settings will seek a nomination to the oversight board and put in an application.

Selections from the ad-hoc nominating committee could come before the County Board as soon as February and aren’t likely to be delayed further than the March board meeting, Gregory said.

“We’d like to see anyone who’s interested,” he said. “And you know it’s a good time while much of our focus has been on getting the oversight board established, the bylaws established.”

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