CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Provident Hospital patient arrived for her regular appointment knowing if she fell seriously ill again, she wouldn't have to take public transportation to the emergency room.
"I'm happy they are being it back so we'll have some kind of emergency services over here," said Myasha Cogar, a South Side resident.
On Tuesday, Cook County officials announced ambulance service will return to South Side medical center again after being stopped more than a decade ago because of budgetary reasons.
"This is an exciting milestone and one that comes after a significant amount of investment and focus on this treasured and historic community hospital," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
The hospital, which is not a trauma center, will begin accepting ambulances on Wednesday. Before Wednesday, Provident's emergency room, which never closed, only accepted walk-in patients or those who arrived by car.
Hospital administrators said a $5 million investment to upgrade the ER and other departments along with expanding Medicaid coverage and the Affordable Care Act helped make recovery of ambulance runs possible now.
"You have a lot more coverage, a lot more investment, and the community has grown, and you've also seen some hospitals close, so there's a need for access, for services in the community," said Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha.
Plans to expand the Provident Hospital campus have been on hold. Community advocates who have long complained about the lack of access to quality medical care said the plan is a good start.
"How is it going to meet the needs of the future, because in the community nobody's saying 'take me to Provident?'" said Kenwood Oakland Community Organization Executive Director Shannon Bennett.
Provident's emergency room now sees about 19,000 patients a year and expects to see an increase.
"I think it's going to be a disaster to open up ambulances without having the appropriate amount of staffing needed," said Provident ER Nurse Nahsis Davis, who is also a National Nurses United member
Hospital officials said the resumption of EMS service in Provident will provide more health care options for South Side residents and could help ease already stressed ERs at other hospitals.
"They should have everything. Whatever health you need, whatever problem you have, they should have it within your neighborhood," said Yonntina Durden, a South Side resident.