PERU, Ill. (WMBD) — St. Margaret’s Health in Peru is closing temporarily because of financial difficulties, with which the hospital cannot keep up.
“We have been put in a position to temporarily suspend hospital operations at St Margaret’s Peru, effective this Saturday at 7 a.m.,” said VP of Marketing and Community Services Linda Burt.
Tim Muntz, the CEO of the hospital, said that the best case scenario is that the hospital will reopen in 30–60 days, and pending an application, the hospital will become an REH (Rural Emergency Hospital) soon after that.
However, last week’s decision prompted worry for the employees and patients of the hospital.
“There’s going to be loss of health care for a lot of folks. Communication has been next to nil and we’re coming out on Saturday to voice our concerns,” said Joseph Skoflanc, a respiratory therapist from the Illinois Valley Community Hospital.
It’s not just the temporary closure of the hospital that’s causing worry, but the permanent closure of the OB-GYN unit as well. There aren’t any other options for women nearby.
“Knowing that I’d have to drive an hour to get the care I need or be as close to delivering and then, ‘oh, hey, you have to schedule your C-section with a whole other provider and a whole other hospital,’ I mean, that’s a lot of stress that somebody doesn’t need,” said Erica Swartzmiller, ICU RN for Illinois Valley Community Hospital.
The next closest OB-GYNs near Peru? Ottawa, Mendota, or Princeton.
“These are long ways for people to go if they’re in crisis if you’re having some kind of cardiac event or an OB issue, it is a long distance, and time makes a difference,” said Skoflanc.
Muntz specified that not all women’s health care services are disappearing: there will still be a large part of the care that’s gynecological. Either way, delivering babies is costing the hospital a $3 million loss annually.
Besides the OB-GYN unit closing, hospital staff are worried they may lose their jobs. Another set of the hospital’s financial issues stems from agency-provided staff who charge 300 times the prices of current hospital staff.
“Just like the majority of the people here, I will be looking for other work and just biding time til, hopefully, this place reopens,” said James Denham, a respiratory therapist for Illinois Valley Community Hospital.
In the meantime, St. Margaret’s Health in Spring Valley will be taking on a few Peru employees, as well as some of the patients.