'Immediate infusion' of funds needed to reopen closed Illinois hospital under REH designation, officials say

Officials for a closed Illinois hospital said the health system will need an "an immediate infusion of state support" to reopen the facility as a rural emergency hospital, Shaw Local News Network reported Feb. 7.

St. Margaret's Health-Peru (Ill.) closed Jan. 28 after the system's CEO and chair of the board detailed plans Jan. 20 to temporarily shutter the hospital. In a Feb. 6 letter to state lawmakers, those officials said they may not have the finances to convert the hospital to a rural emergency hospital without "financial assistance from state or federal monies."

The officials also said they need financial help with their Spring Valley hospital, which remains open as a full-service hospital and emergency room, according to the report. Both hospitals have a backlog of bills. 

Additionally, the officials are hoping to temporarily return obstetrics services to Peru, according to the report. Those services would need to move to Spring Valley if Peru is designated a rural emergency hospital. 

Officials said they are also exploring other options, such as an acquisition by a larger health system, according to the report. 

"We would like to engage state policymakers in a pilot or demonstration program, which keeps OB available in our area and in similar areas across the state who have faced this dilemma or will face it in the near future," the letter stated, according to the report. 

The hospital's letter comes after state lawmakers are seeking answers from hospital leadership about future plans, NBC and ABC affiliate WEEK reported Feb. 6.

Specifically, they are inquiring about mothers who planned to give birth at the hospital in the coming months.

"We have women who are delivering in the next four to six weeks where there is no plan in place for where they should go. Who their doctor will be. What hospital should they go to? What happens if they have a complication? Those are the kinds of questions we need to be answered today," state Sen. Sue Rezin said, according to WEEK.

State Rep. Lance Yednock also expressed concerns related to the healthcare workforce in the region, and Mr. Yednock and Ms. Rezin are meeting with hospital leadership, the news station reported.

In a statement shared with Becker's, Ms. Rezin said she "hope[s] that the ongoing situation will be resolved by SMH officials. Meanwhile, I will continue to do whatever is within my power to help ensure that the people of the Illinois Valley area will have continued access to the best patient care possible."

The hospital cited various contributing factors involved in the closure. These include financial and economic circumstances affecting the entire healthcare industry, as well as a recent cyberattack, which the hospital said prevented it from being able to bill or get paid in a timely way. St. Margaret's Health-Peru also cited severe staff shortages.

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