DeKalb County nursing center to save more than $1M due to new linen contract

Brian Gregory, DeKalb County administrator, speaks Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce State of the Community Address in the DeKalb County Community Foundation Freight Room.

SYCAMORE – The DeKalb County Rehabilitation and Nursing Center will save more than $1 million after the DeKalb County Board recently approved a new linen contract for the facility, a county official said.

In an update during the Sycamore State of the Community address May 1 hosted by the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce, DeKalb County Administrator Brian Gregory said the savings will occur over the contract’s five-year period.

DeKalb County will pay about $6,000 a week less for the service compared to what the county has spent for the last half decade, he said.

“It was a five-year contract that was expired for linen services,” Gregory said. “We put it out to bit, and the bids came back about $6,000 a week less than we had been paying – for a contract that five years prior had been awarded without any bidding. So if you do the math, over five years it’s over a million and a half dollars difference.”

The last contract for linen services at the nursing center had an average weekly cost of $9,700, or $504,400 annually, and was not previously put up for bid, according to county documents. The contract proposal from Vestis Services LLC, DeKalb County Board approved on April 17, will cost $162,929 annually with a $50,000 prebate paid to DeKalb County within 45 days of the contract being award, according to county documents.

Gregory said the savings come as a continued effort by county officials to right financial constraints at the facility.

“Not only are we making strides on the revenue side, but we’re really exploring all the ways we can reduce some of our costs and continue to provide that high level of service,” Gregory said.

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 in October. The public facility remains under county ownership.

Since the contract failed, the County Board has unanimously approved financial plans for the facility and formed the oversight board. After establishing a new oversight board for the center at the end of 2023, the DeKalb County Board approved bylaws and the first four members of the group meant to oversee the facility’s operations in January. Every seat on the board has since been filled and meetings have commenced.

Despite recent DeKalb County Board actions, Gregory said he continues to be asked the occasional question about the future ownership of the county-owned nursing center. He reiterated it is firmly under DeKalb County for the foreseeable future. He said the facility is anticipated to break even financially in a year to 18 months.

“Our County Board has worked very diligently, really looking at every avenue, every angle, it’s a been a very challenging discussion,” Gregory said. “We’ve had the County Board establish an oversight board that’s helping steer the direction of the nursing home, and that involves not only board participation but public participation. So we’ve seen the community step up and be part of the solution, so we’re excited about the future of the DCRNC.”

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