Illinois review board approves Centegra Health System changes

WOODSTOCK – The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board formally approved Centegra Health System’s plans to suspend certain services at its Woodstock location.

The state review board met Tuesday morning to consider the plans, which Centegra announced in June and implemented parts of in August. The plans reduce Woodstock’s formerly comprehensive emergency room to a basic emergency center, which means patients requiring intensive care or an overnight stay must be transferred. The hospital’s behavioral health services will stay, and Centegra also will add physical rehabilitation beds to Woodstock.

The plan also includes shuffling services at Centegra Hospital – McHenry and Centegra Hospital – Huntley.

Some Woodstock residents and officials opposed the plan, but the board was required to allow the certificates of exemptions – one to discontinue the 60 medical-surgical beds, 12 intensive care spaces and five operating room beds in Woodstock; and the other to discontinue 22 rehabilitation beds in McHenry.

Board members also approved changes in services at McHenry and Huntley hospitals, which include adding the intensive care and medical-surgical procedure beds from Woodstock.

Board members approved the proposal unanimously.

“By statute, this board has no option at this point but to approve the project, since all information needed was provided,” board Chairwoman Kathy Olson said.

Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager, Woodstock Fire/Rescue District Chief Michael Hill and Woodstock resident Paul Lockwood spoke about the changes at the public hearing.

Sager said he understood the hospital system had to make tough choices, but he hopes the board will allow future service providers into Woodstock when the time arises.

“I have utmost respect for the many contributions Centegra has made, not only provisions for health care, but also as corporate citizens,” Sager said. “Centegra has worked with us in making good things happen for our residents and those in the larger region. … I choose to believe they have tried, in light of the given circumstances and current trends, to make the best decisions they could.”

Centegra more than doubled its losses at the end of fiscal 2017. The hospital system ended its fiscal year June 30 with $62.3 million in operating losses, according to an unaudited financial statement found on Electronic Municipal Market Access, a municipal security website. The losses are $20 million more than officials projected in May.

“With changing reimbursements, increasing bad debt and today’s uncertain health care climate, Centegra Health System has continuously evaluated where and how we provide services to patients,” Centegra CEO Michael Eesley wrote in a memo to employees. “After careful consideration, we have made the decision to shift all acute inpatient care to Centegra Hospital – McHenry and Centegra Hospital – Huntley.”

Centegra officials did not make a statement at the meeting Tuesday.

Lockwood said one of the reasons his family chose Woodstock as a place to live was because of the presence of a full-service hospital.

He urged the board to vote “yes” if another health care provider comes forward to open in Woodstock.

“I know the rules you abide by won’t let you reject Centegra’s exemption,” Lockwood said. “... The large turnout to the public hearings should show Woodstock wants and needs a full-service hospital. I urge all of you to keep that in mind if another health care provider brings a submission to open a real hospital in Woodstock.”

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