Illinois hospital shuts down, lays off staff

MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, Ill., has suspended all services and discharged all patients.

Brentwood, Tenn.-based Quorum Health, which owns MetroSouth Medical Center, said the loss of physician surgical coverage and growing understaffing forced the hospital to stop all services.

"Patient safety has been MetroSouth's highest priority; unfortunately, suspension is necessary as the ability to provide adequate care in a safe manner is not currently possible," Quorum said in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review.

Quorum announced in June that it filed an application with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to close the 314-bed hospital, and employees were told in August that the hospital would close Sept. 30.

MetroSouth Medical Center's future remains uncertain after the review board postponed a decision on whether to approve the closure Sept. 17. Members of the review board decided to defer action after a lawsuit was filed Sept. 16 against Quorum.

Though the hospital has closed its doors to patients, Quorum said a limited number of employees remain to manage the wind-down processes. More than 800 employees were laid off on Oct. 1, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice filed in August. Employees who stayed through their termination date will continue to receive pay and benefits through Oct. 30.

Quorum said it is committed to finding a healthcare-related use for the facility after it closes. Blue Island Mayor Domingo Vargas told ABC 7 Chicago he is working with Quorum to secure a new owner for the hospital.

According to an agreement obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, Mr. Vargas agreed to withdraw the city's request to delay the closure of the hospital and present Quorum in a "positive" light at the state review board meeting in exchange for a $2 million payment to Blue Island if the review board approved the closure. He told the publication the $2 million would have been used for new equipment and training. A Quorum spokesperson described the payment as a "transition fee" to address short-term costs.

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