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SOUTH SUBURBAN RESIDENTS AND STAKE HOLDERS FIGHT FOR LOCAL HOSPITAL TO REMAIN OPEN

7/17/2019, noon | Updated on 7/17/2019, noon
The City of Blue Island, in partnership with the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, recently hosted the MetroSouth Summit ...
There will be a public hearing regarding the proposed closure of MetroSouth Medical Center on July 24 at St. Benedict’s Church, 2339 York St., in Blue Island. Photo Credit: MetroSouth Medical Center

SOUTH SUBURBAN RESIDENTS AND STAKE HOLDERS FIGHT FOR LOCAL HOSPITAL TO REMAIN OPEN

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

The City of Blue Island, in partnership with the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, recently hosted the MetroSouth Summit where state representatives, regional medical professionals, first responders, local community leaders, and the Blue Island Chamber of Commerce discussed the impact of the proposed MetroSouth Medical Center closure.

During the summit, participants worked together to identify the impact that the closure will have on the regional healthcare network and potential solutions to making sure that the critical healthcare needs of the community are still being met despite the impending closure.

The goal of this summit was to produce an action plan that can be presented to the State Health Facilities Service Review Board at the upcoming public hearing which is scheduled to take place on July 24.

“There was a broad spectrum of stakeholders at the summit with a lot of different perspectives,” said Kristi DeLaurentiis, executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association. “It was really a cross-section of people that are going to be directly or indirectly impacted by the potential closure.”

Participants in the MetroSouth Summit included local south suburban residents, elected officials, regional mayors, state legislators, police, fire, and emergency management service representatives, representatives from neighboring health institutions, and doctors, nurses, and staff members from MetroSouth Medical Center.

If MetroSouth Medical Center closes at the end of the year, as they have announced, it will be the third south suburban hospital to shutter in the south suburbs over the course of a year, the other two being Franciscan St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights and Oak Forest Hospital.

“I think it’s very concerning, and particularly concerning, on the heels of Franciscan St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights closing and Oak Forest Hospital closing in the last year. The data that we’ve been looking at is from 2017 and it’s not showing what the current patient loads are at the other area hospitals because those numbers haven’t been recorded and made public yet. I think it’s going to be dire to have another hospital closing within our region,” said DeLaurentiis.

During the summit, many people reiterated concerns of having to travel further to get health care, lengthened ambulance ride times, and overloaded emergency rooms if MetroSouth Medical Center closes.

Illinois Representative Bob Rita represents the City of Blue Island and has been a strong advocate for keeping MetroSouth open. Most recently he called on the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to schedule a public hearing about the proposed closure and they agreed.

The public hearing will be held on July 24 at St. Benedict’s Church, 2339 York St., in Blue Island. The hearing will run from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break at noon.

If a person would like to speak at the public hearing regarding the closure of MetroSouth Medical Center, email robertbobrita@aol.com with “HOSPITAL” in the subject line. In the e-mail, please include the speaker’s name, email, phone number, and testimony.