OLR chief offers assurances that hospital will remain open
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center chief executive officer John Baird responded to rumors that the hospital, 5645 W. Addison St., would close by saying that it will remain open while moving away from providing inpatient care.
"There has been a lot of confusion in the community about what is happening at Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center, and I can say with absolute certainty that OLR is not closing," Baird said. "What we have been doing is going through a planning process and trying to determine the health care that the community needs.
"Our main concern is access and affordability, and we’ve been going through the process to meet those needs. I feel very good about our plan."
Baird said that the hospital must concentrate on outpatient and ambulatory care to improve health care on the Northwest Side.
"We also see the need for more chronic care such as (for) diabetes," Baird said. "We have a very busy emergency room, and we’ve been trying to figure out how to reinvent Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center to meet the ambulatory needs, primary care and chronic care."
Chronic care deals with long-term illnesses such as heart disease, as opposed to acute care, which deals with short-term illnesses and severe conditions that need immediate attention.
The hospital is part of Presence Health, the largest Catholic health system in the state, which was created in 2011 through the merger of Resurrection Health Care and Provena Health. Presence has 12 hospitals.
Presence Health spokeswoman Angela Benander said that a plan will be presented to the Presence board in December that could include spending $30 million on Our Lady of the Resurrection and on Resurrection Hospital, 7435 W. Talcott Ave., which would come from cost-saving efforts at both hospitals. Baird also is the chief executive officer Resurrection.
"This would be used from cost savings to come up with a mix of in-patient and out-patient facilities," Benander said.
Baird said that the hospitals have been collaborating for years because they are stroke centers that complement each other.
Last month Alderman Timothy Cullerton (38th) said that his office had received numerous calls from residents about rumors that the hospital would close and that hospital officials have assured him that it will change its function but will not close. Cullerton said that that officials said that their operating losses have been between $7 million and $10 million each year for the past 5 or 6 years.
"Hospitals are moving away from inpatient care to more outpatient care, and that does make for more challenges," Baird said. "It’s a transition period. I know that we will need more outpatient access points and better hours and perhaps more ambulatory centers."
Baird said that the hospital has to coordinate its services better and provide those services in a streamlined fashion. "There is no definite timeline because we want to make sure that we get it right," he said. "We see a more outpatient care facility to meet the needs of the community but we won’t begin to implement anything until next year."
State Representative John Mulroe (D-10) said last month that hospital officials reported that only about 80 of the 269 beds in the hospital are occupied.
Baird said that the reason the beds are not occupied is because the hospital is focusing on reducing its readmission rate. He also said the need for inpatient care has decreased.
The hospital opened as Northwest Hospital in 1955, and it changed its name to John F. Kennedy Medical Center in 1986. An intensive care unit opened in 1969, and the hospital was formed as a nonprofit institution in 1968.
The hospital became a part of Resurrection Health Care in 1988, and Chicago-based Resurrection Health Care and Mokena-based Provena Health merged in 2011.