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Chicago hospital to no longer accept ambulance runs

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Provident Hospital, part of Cook County’s medical system, will indefinitely suspend most emergency medical services on Jan. 15. Among other things that will mean Provident will no longer allow ambulances to its emergency room. The facility on East 51st Street currently sees about 40,000 emergency room visits each year. About 10 percent of those are from ambulances.

The change is part of Cook County’s strategic plan to transform its health system. Officials now want Provident to focus more on outpatient care.

Some observers worry cuts at Provident will burden other South Side hospitals with emergency visits. The concern comes amid several closures at South Side hospitals, including the shuttering of Michael Reese in 2008.

The county says it’s considered possible outcomes, including effects on other health providers.

“We’ve obviously talked to all the hospitals in the area to let them know of our plans. If you look at a five-mile radius around Provident Hospital, there’s still significant space there for hospitals to absorb this,” said Lucio Guerrero, spokesman for the Cook County health and hospital system.

The county estimates primary care and specialty visits at Provident will quadruple over the next five years.

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