Suburban residents upset over changes to hospital

July 21, 2010 (CHICAGO) Nurses, patients and other members of the community gathered to Wednesday to voice their opposition.

Community members, patients, and care-givers demanded Wednesday that Cook County commissioners maintain critical services on the Oak Forest Hospital campus.

Next week, the commissioners are set to consider the county health board's plan to shut down in-patient care, emergency room facilities and rehab services at the hospital.

"The direction of the Cook County system must be about expanding access to health care, not cutting it," said William McNary of Citizens Action Illinois.

"We need Oak Forest to stay open and to have the treatment that you can depend on and that you know you won't be turned away because you cannot pay," retired nurse Ruby Moran said.

" I don't know, [I] probably would be in a nursing home, but I don't know how well the care would be compared to here," said Glenn Wise, a quadriplegic who has lived in the hospital for the past 21 years.

Cook County Cmsr. John Daley says the five-year plan would convert the hospital into a regional clinic.

"Change is hard, and we try to operate as a 24-hour emergency room. It would be great to do, if we had the money, but we don't," Daley said.

"[Residents] said they'd have three buses to transfer and a train, and then you walk from the train to Stroger. For a person in pain or needing medical care, it is not feasible," said Lee Mayberry, a former Oak Forest Hospital employee who is now a patient.

Joyce Edmonds' mother suffers from a rare blood decease and must be admitted into the hospital every four weeks. She says taking her to Stroger hospital would be very difficult.

"How can you transport an elderly woman who can barely sit up from the south suburbs all the way to the West Side of Chicago, and once you get there, you have to wait 28 hours to see a doctor," Edmonds said.

"This their plan, and we have to give it an opportunity to work," said Daley.

A spokesperson for the hospital say the plan actually allows us to serve more patients in Oak Forest. The plan calls for the closure of in-patient beds, which is a total of about 40 to 50 people.

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