A state review board on Tuesday approved the closing of MetroSouth Medical Center, ending a monthslong fight to keep the century-old Blue Island hospital open.
The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board unanimously voted Tuesday to close the hospital after postponing the vote in September.
Meanwhile, the review board said it is awaiting a report from the Illinois Department of Public Health about whether Quorum Health, the hospital’s owner, was noncompliant in closing the hospital without board approval.
Hospital operators disregarded the board’s order last month to maintain services and proceeded to shut it down shortly after the September meeting ended.
“We appreciate the Board’s diligence in considering our application and recognize the importance of the Board’s role in this process,” said Amanda Anderson, a spokeswoman for Quorum Health. “We extend our gratitude to the employees who have devoted themselves to caring for our patients and the city of Blue Island.”
Anderson said Quorum will stay in communication with city leaders in hopes of finding a health care-related use for the empty hospital that was once Blue Island’s largest employer.
“This was not the outcome anyone wanted, but we know opportunities still exist to transform health care delivery in this community,” Anderson said.
State Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, said residents in his district are angry and are questioning how the hospital was able to close. Rita said he remains optimistic about recruiting a new health care provider to take over the now shuttered facility.
“I have not directly spoke with anyone from Quorum, but they are publicly saying they will work with us to find a new health care network,” Rita said. “I hope they stay true to what they are saying.”
The fight to provide access to health care to residents of Blue Island and the surrounding communities isn’t over, Rita said.
John Dunleavy, who runs a 250-bed recovery center just a mile from MetroSouth, worries about the future of his patients who are dealing with substance abuse. It is only a two minute drive to the hospital.
“It’s frustrating how they went about closing it,” Dunleavy said. “I’m just worried about what we are going to do now.”
“That hospital has saved the lives of some of our patients,” said Dunleavy. “Every minute counts and if a patient gets stuck waiting for a train to pass, that could be their life.”
Manny Ramos is a corps member of Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of Chicago’s South Side and West Side.