ROSELAND — As the state ponders what financial assistance, if any, it can provide to Roseland Community Hospital, the 162-bed medical center is no longer accepting new patients.
The hospital's emergency room will still treat patients, hospital spokeswoman Sharon Thurman said Wednesday morning. But even that will change if the 89-year-old hospital at 45 W. 111th St. doesn't get a $7 million state bailout Wednesday.
"If we do not get the $7 million today we would have to start transferring patients to other hospitals," Thurman said. "It's unlikely we will be able to remain open."
Whitney Brunch, a 26-year-old mother of six, said she was turned away when she tried to make a doctor's appointment at the hospital Tuesday.
"I took my kids to Roseland this morning and was told they are no longer accepting patients," Brunch said Tuesday afternoon. "They referred me to [the Chicago Family Health Center] across the street.
"I moved to Roseland three months ago from the West Side, where I took my kids to Mount Sinai Hospital," Brunch said.
Thurman said patients like Brunch shouldn't have been turned away until Wednesday.
Though the hospital laid off 68 employees and cut executive pay to save $700,000 a month, it wasn't enough to prevent the current crisis, Thurman said.
"We thought the savings would help keep the doors open, but we now realize that it won't," she said. "But we are optimistic about receiving some sort of bailout from the state as we continue to talk to the governor's office."
If the hospital is counting on state help to stay open, it might be out of luck.
Brooke Anderson, a spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn, said the hospital is facing closure because it mismanaged its resources. She denied the state owes Roseland money, as its former president and CEO, Dian Powell, claimed Monday.
Powell quit Tuesday. Genivee Chapman, chairman of the 17-member Roseland board, is Powell's interim replacement.
Thurman concurred that the state owes Roseland nothing.
"The press has reported that the State of Illinois owes Roseland Community Hospital $6 million. This is not accurate. In fact, the State of Illinois issued an advance Critical Hospital Adjustment Payment of $958,240 a few weeks ago," Thurman said.
Regardless of whether the state owes the hospital, the Rev. Leonardo Gilbert, pastor of Sheldon Heights Church of Christ and a longtime Roseland activist, said residents, namely single mothers, would suffer the most from a closure.
"I drive up and down this area every day as a Roseland resident myself, and I see young mothers with their children walking to the hospital on a regular basis," Gilbert said. "They have no cars or jobs to fall back on, only their neighborhood hospital, and now they may lose it. This area is already a food desert. If Roseland hospital closes, it will be a medical desert as well."
Thurman said hospital officials have reached out to local elected officials for help.
Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) was unavailable for comment.
And newly elected U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Chicago), whose 2nd District includes the hospital, said she continues to work to keep it open.
"I have been in discussions for several weeks with Roseland hospital officials, state and federal officials to try to find a workable solution to keep the facility open. Roseland's current business model is not financially viable, and therefore an infusion of money without structural changes would only temporarily stave off closure," a statement from Kelly said.
"An independent assessment of Roseland's operations is necessary to determine the appropriate course of action to prevent closure. I will continue to work to help devise a long-term plan for restructuring Roseland that will allow the hospital to operate in a financially efficient manner while serving a critical need in the community," said Kelly.
Chanice Tribblet, a 21-year-old single mother, said all she wants is to have a local hospital she can take her son to when he needs medical care.
"I have a 1 year-old, and at that age kids get sick all the time. I don't drive, and I am not working at the moment either. If Roseland closes, I have to travel on the bus at night to take my son to another hospital that's far away."