Dixon home for dementia patients closing its doors

DIXON – A month after launching a campaign to raise $119,000 to remain open, Avonlea Cottage of Dixon is closing.

The GoFundMe page opened March 28 raised only $1,000. May 25 will be its last day.

Staff at the memory care home for people with dementia is busy today calling other facilities, looking for options to provide families who ultimately must decide where they will be placed.

Avonlea is owned by Stephen and AvaLynda Casey of Dixon, who bought the already struggling facility at 503 Countryside Lane in October 2019, right before it was set to close, and right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Because of Illinois Department of Public Health regulations regarding the highly contagious virus, they were not allowed to bring in new patients until recently, and with only eight residents, they lost money they have not been able to recoup, the Caseys said.

“We were unable to accept new residents when we desperately needed them,” AvaLynda Casey said, adding that many families also decided it was safer to keep their loved ones at home. “They were afraid of congregate living from what they were hearing and reading.”

As with other health care facilities, the need to increase staff to meet the changing needs of their patients, or to cover employee illnesses, the payroll increases that and overtime issues brought, and out-of-pocket expenses for PPE and other necessities hit Avonlea hard, she said.

Wednesday, for the first time, the Caseys couldn’t make payroll for their 28 staff members.

Because Avonlea is privately owned, “we get no subsidies from the government,” and because their income stayed flat and did not drop 25% or more in 2020 – again, because they couldn’t bring in new residents but maintained the same number for the year – they aren’t eligible for a second round of PPP assistance, Casey said.

They will put the building up for sale, in the hopes that a health care or social services agency will find a need for it, she said.

In the meantime, “we are open and giving excellent care as long as people are here. We are still at full operational status.”

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.