Aperion Care Bloomington, 1509 N. Calhoun St., Bloomington, is shown on Dec. 13, 2017. Aperion Care is under increased scrutiny by federal officials after a series of violations but Aperion's general counsel said the facility is "moving in a positive direction."

BLOOMINGTON — A nursing home that is on the state's radar for problems with care of residents is taking the unusual step of temporarily reducing the number of residents until underlying problems at the long-term care facility can be remedied.

Aperion Care Bloomington, 1509 N. Calhoun St., Bloomington, is reducing its census to stabilize operations at the facility and address problems, said Aperion Care Bloomington General Counsel Fred Frankel.

"In an effort to stabilize the situation and build the facility back up, we are allowing the census to get smaller so staff issues aren't as exascerbated," Frankel told The Pantagraph on Wednesday.

Aperion Care Bloomington, which has a capacity of 117 skilled- and intermediate-care residents and 75 full- and part-time employees, had a census "in the upper 70s" in July, Frankel said. As of Wednesday, the number of residents was down to 65, Frankel said.

"We're looking to get it down another 10 to 15 residents so the census will be in the low 50s," Frankel said. That way, all remaining residents will be concentrated in two wings, allowing staff to focus on care of those residents.

Building improvements will take place in the two empty wings before Aperion begins accepting new residents again, Frankel said.

"Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been informed," he said. "We've worked with families and residents to find proper locations (other facilities) that they would be interested in," he said. "No one was sent against their will."

IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold noted that facilities can reduce their headcount without reducing the number of beds for which they are licensed. Residents concerned that they are being asked to leave without their consent can call the state Nursing Home Hotline at 800-252-4343, she said.

After Aperion Care took over operation of the nursing home at the end of 2015, the company found a facility with financial and building problems and staff instability.

"With the nursing shortage in this country, we are feeling that as much as anyone," said Frankel, noting that in July, the state cited the facility with violations.

"At no time was there abuse or neglect going on," Frankel said. "They are issues that deal with the underlying care because of staff instability."

As Aperion staff has worked to address the problems, the decision was made to reduce the number of residents to make it easier to take corrective action and "build a solid foundation" before rebuilding the resident population.

"We have plans to do renovations some day, but the care and staffing are what we are focused on now," he said.

"We are committed to the facility," Frankel said. "I'm sure there is some apprehension and concern of residents and staff, but I'm sure they see we are committed to resolving these issues. The first and foremost commitment we have is for the highest level of quality care for these residents."

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