Before I address my views regarding the upcoming sale, I think that it is appropriate that I disclose a few facts regarding to my background. I have been a neighbor of West Suburban Medical Center for more than 40 years. For 40 years, my family has received outstanding medical care at West Sub.
In the mid-1990s, I was hired as the finance director of West Sub’s PCC Clinic, where I was able to get a much-needed clean Medicaid audit from the state of Illinois. Also in the ’90s, I spent some time at Loyola University Medical Center, both before and after the ill-fated Loyola-West Sub merger.
In 2001 at the age of 64, I was hired by MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn as a senior financial analyst, shortly after its purchase by Vanguard. During my seven-year tenure at MacNeal, Vanguard purchased Louis Weiss Hospital in Chicago.
Now my observations, in no particular order:
“Vanguard must guarantee keeping West Sub open for ten years.” – This issue has nothing to do with the evil “for-profit” corporate structure versus a “not-for-profit” structure. The issue is revenue. With a significant percentage of West Sub’s patients being either uninsured or on public aid, the real culprit is getting the state of Illinois to remain current with its Medicaid obligations. Illinois has a terrible track record in this matter. Most of the hospitals on the West Side of Chicago have closed with the state owing them significant sums of Medicaid reimbursements. Remember St. Anne’s Hospital on Division?
It’s my understanding that Vanguard’s commitment when it purchased the Detroit Medical Center was based upon a guarantee by the state of Michigan.
The appropriate persons to pressure regarding potential hospital closures are: Gov. Pat Quinn, state Sen. Don Harmon, and the various state representatives. Ask them to explain to you why Illinois is unable to meet its financial obligations to health care providers.
“Why is a public employees union so actively interested to unionizing West Sub?” – Good question. I assume that the union perceives that West Sub is the most susceptible of the private hospitals on the West Side. I’ve been out of the loop for a couple of years, but I do not believe that any of the private hospitals in the western suburbs are unionized.
“It’s Vanguard or nothing!” – Since Resurrection is unable to continue to bleed cash, this is probably true. However, Vanguard is not really that bad an option. My experience with Vanguard was positive. I do not believe that buying hospitals and then closing them is in their business plan. The one issue that I appreciate is that they do not rename their acquisitions to include their name (i.e., Rush-Oak Park). I would suspect that most people were unaware that MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn was owned by Vanguard until the proposed West Sub transaction hit the news.
Phil Pittman is an Oak Park resident who has lived near West Sub for more than 40 years.