UPDATE: Attorneys from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law are in federal court Thursday urging the state to give Roseland Community Hospital and eight others the Medicaid payments they’re owed. Follow @dnainfochi or check back here for more information from the hearing.
ROSELAND — New Roseland Community Hospital could close soon if the state doesn't approve a 2016 budget, says hospital CEO Tim Egan — who warned that patients could die if lawmakers can't come to an agreement.
In a statement released Wednesday, Egan said the hospital, 45 W. 111th St., has just enough funding to meet its July 31 payroll. The hospital will implement voluntary furloughs, layoffs and service line suspensions sometime before Aug. 1, but its financial future is unclear.
The hospital is in dire straits because lawmakers could not agree on a 2016 budget before Illinois went into a new fiscal year, which started July 1, Egan said. He said the hospital can't get state and federal funding because of the stalemate.
"As we stand today, politics is killing the New Roseland Hospital,” Egan said. “The families of those who are going to die because of this political budget impasse will not give a damn about party lines.
“Just as bullets don't recognize political boundaries, grieving families, critically injured patients and an abandoned community will not care about Republicans or Democrats. They will just know that the State of Illinois failed them. And the State of Illinois will have failed the New Roseland Hospital, its patients and its employees over a political stalemate. The money our hospital needs to survive is actually sitting in the bank."
Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan, said that the highest priority for Madigan and Democrats is the state budget.
“Even in good times, hospitals like Roseland are in precarious financial situations, and I know the speaker is aware of all of that,” Brown said. “I know that’s why he believes we need to make the number one priority the budget, and not get all bogged down with these kinds of budget issues."
This isn't the first time the 85-year-old institution faced the threat of closing. Back in 2013, former Gov. Pat Quinn approved $350,000 in temporary assistance to keep the hospital open, but blamed hospital leadership for its "serious longtime management issues that must be addressed."
Egan, the CEO since July 2013, testified in Springfield earlier this month, saying the problem is different this time.
"The New Roseland Hospital, after battling back from the brink of disaster, is staring into an abyss," he said, according to video of the testimony. "Because of the political impasse that brings me here today, our federal funding will flow into the state, but it will not be distributed so I can meet and treat patients, make payroll and pay my vendors."
Egan said former leaders at the time of the budget problems in 2013 also blamed a delay in state payments, but that wasn't true then. It is now, he said.
The hospital has become a destination for victims of violence and drugs on the Far South Side, he said.
"The uninformed think that if hospitals like Roseland shut down, ambulances will simply just take these patients to the next hospital," he testified. "But those people can't see the action at 111th Street on the Far South Side of Chicago like I do. The truth is that some of those patients will simply not survive.
"Those uninformed people don't see the carnage of the gunshot victims that come in through the gang warfare. They don't see the overdose victims we see in our Emergency Department every day. They don't see the behaviorial health patients that have been denied access to proper treatment.
"The new Roseland Hospital has gunshot vicitms walk through the door, have themselves driven to the front door, or even drive themselves to the front door. The path we are on today will not allow patients to seek treatment at our hospital no matter how they get to the front door," Egan said.
But the hospital does more than help trauma victims, Egan said. It is now the community's largest employer, with 500 employees. It also offers free mammograms and dental care for children.
"We mean so much more to our community than just emergency treatment," he said.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) whose ward includes Pullman, said on Wednesday that he and Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) spoke this morning about the state’s budget crisis and how it's affecting their constituents.
“We’re fighting together to keep the doors open,” Beale said.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and state Democratic leaders — particularly House Speaker Michael Madigan — have blamed each other for the budget impasse.
Officials with Rauner's office and Madigan could not immediately be reached for comment.
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