Administrators at two Cook County, Ill., public hospitals are pushing forward with plans for a revamping of their facilities despite low inpatient numbers and an uncertain future after healthcare reform.
Citing a new report, county officials said last week they would further scale back their proposal for a new Cook County Hospital in Chicago to a 464-bed facility with a $570 million price tag. It would replace all patient-related functions at the existing 82-year-old, 932-bed hospital with the smaller facility and an outpatient diagnostic treatment center.
"The new, smaller Cook County Hospital will be a hub of a cost-effective system, which meets the needs of our patients and can withstand any changes in the healthcare environment," said Ruth Rothstein, chief of the Cook County Bureau of Health Services and director of Cook County Hospital.
The new hospital would include a dozen satellite clinics, the report by Bobrow/Thomas and Associates said.
Last year, a report by Coopers & Lybrand recommended a new $625 million Cook County Hospital with 525 acute-care beds (Jan. 3, p. 22). The consultant also said the county has had to spend $80 million in the past three years to upgrade the existing facility so it would meet accreditation requirements.
Critics of a new county hospital say officials should wait for healthcare reform to pass Congress before spending additional tax dollars. They also say a new hospital doesn't make sense when another county-owned facility, 243-bed Provident Hospital, reported just 20% of its acute-care beds full.
The report on Provident came eight months after the hospital's re-opening following a $55 million renovation.
The daily inpatient census at Provident has averaged about 47, according to the report issued by the hospital's chief operating officer, Orlando Jones.
But Mr. Jones said there's no reason to be alarmed by the low occupancy. "Although the hospital is still in its infancy stage, much has been accomplished," Mr. Jones said in a letter to the Cook County Board. "Most importantly, the hospital is being carefully managed to...properly prepare the institution to gradually increase the level and scope of service after the proper planning has been performed and the appropriate resources are available."
Mr. Jones said he expects inpatient occupancy to average as many as 90 patients a day by the end of November. Financial figures for the eight-month period were unavailable.
Provident was an inner-city minority-owned hospital that filed for bankruptcy and closed in 1987 after owing creditors more than $40 million. It was purchased by the state of Illinois for $1 in 1990 and then transferred to Cook County.