The case of the runaway hospital | Bleader

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The case of the runaway hospital

Posted By on 01.09.07 at 11:08 AM

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

In September the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board allowed Advocate Health Care to downsize Bethany Hospital on the west side and turn it into a specialty hospital for long-term care. This past weekend Advocate announced it will seek to open a new hospital in the far-northwestern suburb of Round Lake. For details check out the Blogging Mayor of Round Lake, by mayor and real estate agent Bill Gentes, which includes links to newspaper stories. Crain's gives the most background. Round Lake will issue bonds to buy a key parcel for Advocate.

Advocate -- a chain whose hospitals have roots in Lutheranism, the United Church of Christ, and (at Bethany) the Church of the Brethren -- is the biggest health care provider in Illinois and the second largest private employer of any kind in Chicago. It has long denied that it's abandoning needy city residents for suburban ones. I covered the dispute in the Reader on December 16, 2005, where I wrote of the chain's biggest adversary, the Service Employees International Union:

"The union claims that the forces of health care capitalism are pulling Advocate away from its religious and charitable roots. 'Advocate isn't losing money,' says Joseph Geevarghese, an attorney and director of the union's Hospital Accountability Project. 'They have the resources to do more than just keep the doors open [which at that time was the issue at Bethany]. The incentives are all for hospitals to act like Wal-Mart and IBM.' For example, the chain has to borrow money for its big projects, and if it wants the best interest rates it needs to show healthy returns -- the lenders aren't asking themselves what Jesus would do."

What's the difference between West Garfield Park and western Lake County? Both areas have surpluses of hospital beds. As the map in Crain's makes clear, Round Lake isn't exactly in a hospital desert. And a for-profit chain is already seeking to open a hospital nearby. But the west side has a health care crisis, and Lake County has paying customers. Advocate has plenty of incentives to follow the money; what would it do if union and church people weren't dogging it at every turn?

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Harold Henderson

  • The Recyclable House

    The Recyclable House

    If Ken Ortiz has his way, no one in Chicago will ever simply "demolish" a building again.
    • Jul 24, 2008
  • Sympathy for the Devil?

    Sympathy for the Devil?

    Progressive scribe Rick Perlstein made his reputation finding the good in conservatives. Then they really started screwing up the country.
    • Jan 24, 2008
  • Dynamic Flash for Democrats

    Dynamic Flash for Democrats

    Wanna raise funds to run for office? Nag Schwarzenegger about health care? Or just make fun of Bush? Call Articulated Man.
    • Jan 10, 2008
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
The Color Purple Drury Lane Theatre
September 13
Galleries & Museums
October 23

Tabbed Event Search

The Bleader Archive

Popular Stories