Roseland Community Hospital granted reprieve

June 5, 2013

(WBEZ/Natalie Moore)
Roseland Community Hospital on West 111th Street.

Debt-ridden Roseland Community Hospital’s doors will remain open, at least for the next two weeks.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is giving the Chicago South Side hospital $350,000 in temporary emergency help, which allows Roseland to meet its payroll through June 17. The hospital had asked for $7 million.

Quinn’s office has said Roseland needs a viable plan amid mismanagement. The money is conditional: Independent financial experts will review the budget and the hospital must hire an independent chief restructuring officer.

Hospital officials didn’t give details about how the board will tackle long-term sustainability. Staff and the local residents were jubilant Wednesday evening.

“The governor and other officials in his cabinet are very aware of how important this institution is to the community. Not just the immediate community but the greater Roseland community,” said Sharon Thurman, a hospital vice president.

Previously, hospital officials said the state owed Roseland money. The hospital admitted that was a mistake but didn’t elaborate on how that happened. On Tuesday hospital CEO Dian Powell, a social worker, resigned. She recently made cuts that will save the hospital $8.5 million annually.

For a quick fix, the state advanced payments to the hospital for this year. Thurman said it received $1 million. Money is needed to pay down debt and pay vendors. Most Roseland patients are underinsured or uninsured. They tend to treat the Emergency Room as a primary care doctor’s office. The hospital’s annual uncompensated care is $25 million.

The Roseland community has its share of challenges. According to Chicago public health statistics, almost 20 percent of residents live below the poverty level and unemployment is 18 percent. Foreclosures have wrecked the community, violence hurts many blocks and blight is an obstacle.

The hospital, near 111th and State streets, is one of the few economic engines in Roseland. Hospital officials say its contribution to the area’s economic health in 2010 was $147 million.

Darnisha McGee is a mental health associate in the adolescent behavior unit - the only in-patient facility of its kind south of Roosevelt Road.

“Chicago has a very high violence rate among teenagers that leads to fatalities as well as emergency visits for aggression, and all of this attests (to)  why the unit is needed,” McGee said. “We have a tremendous need within this community on the South Side and across Chicago in general. There are children who are angry, sad, depressed and they need services.”