Provident Hospital to turn away ambulances

February 14, 2011 9:05:14 AM PST
Beginning Tuesday, Provident Hospital will no longer accept ambulance runs to its emergency room, a move expected to put additional strain on other South Side hospitals.

Provident will still see approximately 36,000 people a year who find their way to the 24-hour emergency room on foot or by car, and the hospital will retain 25 inpatient beds.

But an average 13 ambulance runs a day will go to a half-dozen other hospitals within a five-mile radius of Provident, 500 E. 51st St., officials from the Cook County Health and Hospitals System said.

The move, first announced last month, was temporarily postponed to give receiving hospitals more time to prepare for additional patients from Provident.

Dr. Richard Baron, dean for clinical practice at the University of Chicago Medical Center, said the hospital plans to increase staffing and beds in its emergency room in anticipation of getting eight to 10 extra ambulances a day?a 50 percent increase.

Even so, greater patient volume may force the U. of C., which already sends away more ambulances than any other hospital in the Chicago area, to increase the amount of time its emergency room spends on "bypass," Baron said.

"This really is a regional problem that needs a regional solution," he said. "Our institution alone, a 530-bed facility, can't solve the problem of a larger region that's lost more than 2,000 hospital beds over the last decade."

Suspending ambulance runs at Provident is part of the county health system's five-year strategic plan to shift away from costly inpatient care in favor of providing more primary care and specialty services.

Of the 40,000 patients seen in Provident's emergency room each year, only about 10 percent arrive by ambulance, health system spokesman Lucio Guerrero said.

By June, the county expects to open a regional outpatient "hub" at Provident that, by 2015, will handle four times as many outpatient visits as the hospital currently does.


(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire - Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2011.)