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Roseland hospital gets state “emergency assistance” to keep doors open

Updated: July 7, 2013 12:46PM

Roseland Community Hospital will get state “emergency assistance” to keep the doors of the financially strapped South Side medical facility open, Gov. Pat Quinn announced Wednesday afternoon.

The hospital will get about $350,000 in temporary assistance that will allow the facility to continue to serve the community while developing a comprehensive sustainability plan.

“The money will allow the hospital to meet its June 17 payroll,” said Sharon Thurman, a hospital vice president. “We are grateful to the partnership with the governor and his team.”

The emergency assistance comes from existing state funding dedicated to public health purposes and community and not-for-profit organizations.

As a condition of the aid, finance experts will review the hospital’s budget, operations and finances. An an independent “chief restructuring officer” will develop a long-term financial plan for Roseland.

Quinn’s number crunchers will begin work at the hospital Thursday. Thurman said the hospital was already working on a sustainability plan to save $700,000 a month.

“Once that is taken care of, we will be able to manage our larger debt which is more than $14 million,” Thurman said.

“Once the governor and his team are satisfied with the direction we are going, then we will become eligible for more financial assistance,” said Thurman, who noted that with another July 1 payroll obligation looming, time is of the essence.

The $350,000 infusion is a fraction of the $7 million Roseland requested to pay off all its debts that are more than 90 days delinquent.

“Of course it was not the full amount requested, but the fact that the governor wanted his team to help, it was reassuring,” said Thurman.

Quinn, who called the hospital an “anchor in the community,” and said the temporary relief will allow the hospital to remain open. “However, this is not a long-term solution. The hospital must take the necessary steps to develop a plan for a sustainable future.”

The hospital had already laid off 68 people such as lab technicians and nurses as well as given 47 other employees mandatory furlough for two weeks because of its financial issues.

Derriela Williams, who is a financial counselor for the hospital, said the state funds are “not the end of the solution but it’s a start.”

She noted that the hospital needs long-range funds because it is a small, not-for-profit institution that acts as a safety net for patients without medical insurance.

“Last month alone I wrote off $691,000 of free care. These are indigent patients,” Williams said. “We cannot turn these people away from our doors. It would be in humane.”

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