Town fathers in Clinton, Ill., put the brakes on an ordinance designed to make its hospital the rural community's "sole provider."
The Clinton City Council on June 3 voted down Mayor Carl Troxel's proposed ordinance that would have made it illegal to perform many basic medical services at any facility other than Dr. John Warner Hospital, owned by the city of Clinton in central Illinois.
"Everybody thought we'd be sued for antitrust, but I thought it was our last shot really to save the hospital," said Troxel, who resigned his post in disgust, partially over the defeat of his proposal.
The 37-bed not-for-profit hospital had been reeling financially in recent years and is projected to lose more than $600,000 this year, city officials said. The hospital also lost its administrator, Brian Klitzing, who was working duel jobs as chief executive officer and chief financial officer.
Hospital personnel were unable to provide additional financial information. HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare information company, said financial information on the hospital wasn't available for the last three years.
Upon Troxel's resignation, the City Council approved a recommendation to hire Louisville, Ky.-based Alliant Health System to manage the hospital in hopes of turning it around. Alliant executives hadn't joined the hospital by last week and were unavailable for comment.
Some city officials were skeptical of Troxel's proposal.
"I can't think it's legal to start with," Finance Commissioner Tom Edmunds told the Associated Press before the June 3 City Council meeting.
"I would assume that any defense of this ordinance would wind up at the minimum at the appellate court level," he said.
The ordinance would have covered radiology; cardiac rehabilitation; medical laboratory work; ambulance and emergency room services; and physical, occupational and speech therapies.
Troxel said healthcare providers from neighboring counties have been trying to attract Clinton's 7,400 residents away from Warner, the only hospital in Dewitt County.
St. Joseph Medical Center, in nearby Bloomington, Ill., recently purchased a four-physician primary-care group practice in the town.
As for Troxel, he said he was just doing what he thought was best to save the hospital.
"I tried to get this (ordinance) in before St. Joseph got (established in the community)," Troxel said.
"`Everybody thought I quit just because of that, but I've been up against a lot of 4-1 votes before and I didn't resign. I'm 72 years old and want to take it easier."