Roseland Hospital protest aims to keep doors open

June 3, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Workers and members of the Roseland community have been protesting outside the hospital, which could be forced to shut down by Wednesday due to a lack of funds.

"It seems like they are picking on the lower income people and that's not right, they need to do something to keep this hospital open," said William Gibson.

Roseland is the only hospital in the area for seven miles. Trauma patients are often stabilized there, and community members say closing the hospital will put many people living in the area at risk.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said that he would keep the hospital open, but citing state budget issues Sunday, community members say they were told that Quinn reversed that decision and now says the hospital has to close.

However, the governor's office clarified the hospital is not state-run. A press secretary for Gov. Quinn says that the hospital and its board of directors have "serious management issues that need to be addressed." The State of Illinois has advanced all payments to the hospital for the fiscal year, but the organization is still "in deep debt and has mismanaged resources," says the governor's office.

Community members say they want the governor to hold a public hearing to address the hospital's future and the needs of the Far South Side area.

But the governor's office says the state's top healthcare advisors have met with Roseland Hospital officials repeatedly over the past six weeks, most recently Sunday. Hospital officials have failed to respond to requests for a viable plan to properly run the facility, the governor's office said.

Still, community members expressed disappointment.

"We need this hospital. If they can do anything to help this hospital please do because the distance we'd have to go for another hospital would be bad, a lot of elderly people came here," said Jesse Moore, area resident.

The hospital has laid off more than 13 percent of its staff already and has $7 million in unpaid bills. Hospital officials say it has not been able to make money because it serves so many uninsured patients. Over the years, as other hospitals have closed, Roseland has seen a 40-percent increase in patients, many without insurance.

"Of every dollar we bill, we only receive 17 cents from that," said hosptial CEO Dian Powell.

Annete Cannon is among the uninsured who is served by the hospital.

"It's the only way I could get here, call the ambulance... A car isn't fast enough. I'll be gone by the time an ambulance gets here," said Cannon.

Supporters of the hospital say if the hospital closes, it will cause a major economic impact on the area. Businesses that rely on Roseland Hospital will close, they say, and jobs will be lost, in addition to the 600 Roseland Hospital employees who would be affected by the closing.

"A lot of violent stuff goes on. They need medical attention... a lot of deaths. Where else are they going to go?" said Gibson.

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