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Roseland Hospital Cuts Staff and Services to Stay Afloat

By Wendell Hutson | May 29, 2013 8:22am
 Roseland Community Hospital will remain open even if it does not receive a $7 million state bailout, officials said. 
Hospital Problems
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ROSELAND — If a $7 million state grant does not come through this year, Roseland Community Hospital still will remain open, vowed Dian Powell, president and chief executive officer of the hospital.

"We met last week with representatives from the governor's office, so we are hoping to hear something back this week," hospital spokeswoman Sharon Thurman said.

Mike Claffey, a spokesman for Gov. Pat Quinn, said no timetable has been set on when a decision would be made about a possible bailout. He added that the governor is very concerned about the viability of the hospital and considers the institution an anchor in the community.

"The governor has ordered his senior staff to work with stakeholders to help [the hospital] adapt to changes in the health care industry," Claffey said. 

Steps the 89-year-old hospital took last week to stay afloat included laying off 68 of its 560 employees and cutting the pay of about 30 more.

"The only employees taking pay cuts are our those from the executive and leadership teams. The executive team agreed to a flat cut between $40,000 to $75,000," said Thurman, who as vice president of Development and Legislative Affairs for the hospital, is part of the executive team. "Our leadership team will not be paid for one day per pay period."

In addition to pay cuts and layoffs, Thurman said some services were also suspended at the 162-bed hospital.

The Adolescent Behavioral Health Unit, a 28-bed inpatient facility that opened in January 2012 and provides mental health care to youths ages 10-17, has been reduced to 10 beds.

The hospital's Hyperbaric Medicine, which averaged six patients daily, has been halted. The unit is used to treat long-term patients recovering from wounds.

The changes are expected to save $700,000 a month, Thurman said.

"The plan is to use $400,000 in savings for operating expenses and the remaining $300,000 to pay down our debt," Thurman said.

Thurman said the hospital's annual budget is $70 million but it provides $25 million each year in free care.

"Forty percent of the people who go through [the Emergency Room] are uninsured," Powell said. "For every $1 we bill a patient for, we collect 18 cents. And at that rate, we cannot continue to function as a full-service hospital."

Had the hospital been forced to close as Powell predicted previously without a state bailout, residents would have to travel 5.6 miles to reach Advocate Trinity Hospital, which is the closest hospital to Roseland.

In 2011, Quinn was at the hospital to sign legislation to create the Roseland Medical District, which is the only medical district on the South Side and the fourth in the state. The three other medical districts are in Springfield, East St. Louis and on Chicago's West Side.

Powell, a Roseland resident, said ever since she was a little girl the hospital has been a fixture in the economically challenged South Side community.

"I have lived in Roseland for 36 years, and Roseland Community Hospital has been a staple in the community a lot longer than that," said Powell, a 68-year-old widow. "This hospital serves some of the poorest people in the city, and the residents depend on the hospital for their medical needs."