Amita to close pediatric unit in Chicago hospital — why the national trend is concerning

Amita Health Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center Chicago is seeking approval to close its pediatric unit, the latest in a string of hospitals to do so, according to local news station WBEZ.

In its application to close the unit, the Chicago hospital said it admitted just 134 kids throughout 2019. 

"After much thought and consideration, we feel our community will be better served in converting these needed beds into a general inpatient medical/surgical unit," Bob Dahl, president and CEO of Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, told WBEZ. 

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board must approve Amita Health's application. 

The facility's proposal illustrates a trend occurring in Illinois and across the U.S., according to the report. 

Matthew Davis, MD, chair of pediatrics at Lurie Children’s Hospital, called the trend concerning, as it may create barriers to care, but noted that it is also hard for community hospitals to sustain safe pediatric inpatient care with low volumes. 

"What we've wanted to understand is the circumstances that drive hospitals to make this decision, that does affect the access the families have to hospital-level care for their children near where they live," Dr. Davis told WBEZ. "It’s a challenging balance to strike, because we know that it’s very hard to sustain high-quality, safe inpatient care for kids at hospitals that have very low volumes. But we also want to try to optimize things for parents."

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