Suburban Chicago Hospital Will Close After Being Crushed By Too Many Uninsured Patients

If you’re in the market for an excellent 410 bed hospital, the Chicago suburb of Blue Island has one that it’ll let you have for free, says the Chicago Tribune.

In a stunning development underscoring the plight of non-profit hospitals struggling with the increase in uninsured patients, the Catholic ownership of St. Francis Hospital & Health Center on Wednesday said it will shutter the hospital because nobody would buy it.

The religious order of nuns that oversees St. Louis-based SSM Health Care said it could not even give the hospital away to other health facilities “for free.”

Saddled with tens of millions of dollars in losses from uninsured patients who could not pay their medical bills, St. Francis would be abandoning its core mission of caring “for the people of its communities regardless of their ability to pay.” SSM will seek a closing application with the state, a process that could take several months.

The closing would erase a deeply established health-care facility in a struggling south suburban town, forcing residents to travel further from home and potentially stressing other facilities with an influx of thousands of patients, many with limited means.

“Unfortunately, in spite of St. Francis’ outstanding clinical reputation, reimbursement from commercial insurers could not cover the cost of providing care to the growing number of Medicaid and uninsured patients,” said Sister Mary Jean Ryan, SSM’s chief executive officer.

Established in 1905, the Tribune says that St. Francis was known for its excellent cardiology program housed in a $34 million state-of-the-art addition that was completed in 2003. Any takers?

Maybe a network needs a realistic set for a TV doctor show?

SSM to Close St. Francis Hospital & Health Center (Press Release)
[St. Francis]
The hospital they just couldn’t save [Chicago Tribune via WSJ Health Blog]