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Franciscan Health Hammond to close emergency room by year’s end, leaving Lake County’s largest city without a hospital – Chicago Tribune

After a century of being within its hospital boundaries, Hammond will no longer have an emergency medical service as Francis Hammond will close by the end of the year.

Franciscan Health Hammond, Dyer and Munster Interim President and CEO Barbara Anderson announced in a release Thursday that Franciscan Health Alliance’s governing body has voted to end inpatient admissions at the Hammond campus and will close the emergency department by the end of the year. Instead, Franciscan will focus on efforts to “expand access to primary care,” she said, moving its services to Munster and Dyer.

Since Franciscan announced in 2021 that it would invest $31 million to build a 10-bed inpatient unit and emergency department in Hammond while demolishing much of the 100-year-old hospital, too few patients and a shortage of health workers have forced councils to rethink their strategy. , Anderson said.

“Over the past 15 months, we have seen inpatient volume at Franciscan Health Hammond drop to an average of 2.5 patients per day,” Anderson said in the release. “Of the 54 patients who go to the emergency department each day, more than 90% would be better served in less expensive facilities, such as urgent care or primary care clinics. With such volumes, it is difficult to maintain efficiency.”

In addition, a “critical shortage of medical professionals” and a “dramatic shift” of patients choosing full-service hospitals elsewhere “make it impossible to continue to keep an inpatient facility open, averaging less than three inpatients per day,” Anderson said. . said. As a result, Franciscan Hammond will now refer patients who need inpatient care to the Munster and Dyer campuses.

Anderson said that if Francis had been able to predict the “precipitous decline in volumes,” administrators would have planned differently.

Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr., a vocal opponent of Franciscan Health Alliance’s plans, was angered by the announcement.

“For nearly a year, the city of Hammond has endured the prospect of its only hospital closing substantially when Franciscan Health announced that St. Margaret’s Hospital, a mainstay of health care in the city for more than 100 years, would eliminate most services and demolish much of the medical facility. town,” he said in a statement. services unavailable to many residents.

“This announcement left Lake County’s largest city without a hospital for its 80,000 residents, and it underscores a problem in America — an America that now has two health care systems — one if you’re rich and one if you’re not.”

And anyone who says people “decide with their feet” to go somewhere else is a red herring, he said.

“It’s the health care corporation that decided to get rid of Hammond. This decision is in direct conflict with their ministry and mission to serve the poor and most vulnerable,” McDermott said, noting that the Franciscan Hammond EMS is the primary dispatch point for the Hammond Fire Department. “This is not a compassionate decision. This corporate decision will put anyone in need of immediate and emergency services at risk, potentially resulting in a life-or-death situation.

“I pledge that I will continue to do everything in my power to find alternative health care providers who are committed to the city and its residents and to make sure Hammond’s health care needs are met.”

Anderson said Franciscan Health Alliance is investing $5.3 million to renovate the Dr. John Lanman Clinic for the uninsured and underinsured, Fresh Start Market for the food insecure, diaper pantries, prenatal care programs, primary care clinics, dialysis, anticoagulant clinics, multidisciplinary consultation and women’s health center. They will also try to give Hammond employees other jobs across the network, although it was unclear how many there would be.

“A qualified developer of housing for seniors and citizens with disabilities is very interested in working with the city to renovate two of the oldest and largest buildings on campus,” and “a federally qualified medical clinic has expanded its footprint in Hammond to develop a primary care clinic to serve current health care needs of those seeking care locally,” Anderson said in a release.

Michelle L. Quinn is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.


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