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Former Advocate Ravenswood Hospital Medical Center
Former Advocate Ravenswood Hospital Medical Center
Is This Healthy? By Sergio Barreto Published in the Chicago Reader, 4/14/00; revisited 1/20/06 Ravenswood Hospital CEO John Blair got an earful from employees and local residents in the weeks after he announced a proposed merger between Advocate Health Care, which owns Ravenswood, and Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Employees feared for their jobs — and rightly so, since the merger plan called for the elimination 700 staff positions. “Advocate says they can find us another position or we can get severance,” said obstetrics nurse Eva Peroulas. “But they don’t say whether we can still get severance if they offer us, like, a third-shift position and we refuse to take it.” Area residents fretted about possible service cuts. “Everything [Advocate does] seems to be dictated by the profit motive,” said former Ravenswood Community Council president Ralph Karsten. “Two years ago they absorbed Ravenswood Hospital so they could refinance millions of dollars’ worth of debt — and now here they go again.” Blair took great pains to point out that this wasn’t just a merger between his hospital and Illinois Masonic, but that the two were the biggest hospitals in what Advocate envisioned as a new “multisite health-delivery system for the North Side.” He explained, “The driving factor behind the deal is declining reimbursement, from federal and state government as well as HMOs and PPOs. Although we have cut our costs, we’re projected to lose $24 million over the next five years. At Illinois Masonic that figure is $30 million over the same period. That’s not a viable economic model.” On average only 65 percent of Ravenswood’s 306 beds and 72 percent of Illinois Masonic’s 542 beds were full, according to Blair. Many hospitals around the country have been facing the same problem, and over the past few years they’ve been consolidating in an effort to be more efficient. Chicago has been lagging behind that trend, according to Blair. “The North Side is probably the most overbedded area in the nation, except maybe for Manhattan Island,” he said. “You’re going to see more of these kinds of deals in Chicago in the future.” Another such deal was in the works on the Near West Side, where Rush-Presbyterian-Saint Luke’s Medical Center, the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center, and Cook County Hospital were mulling some kind of service consolidation. “We can’t speak for other hospitals in terms of a trend, but we are looking at six or seven areas of service in which we can collaborate with the University of Illinois hospital and Cook County,” said Rush-Presbyterian spokesperson Chris Martin. “It just seems that some form of collaboration makes perfect sense, with the close proximity between us and other hospitals in the medical district.” But Ravenswood and Illinois Masonic, at 836 W. Wellington are roughly three miles apart. The Lakeview community would lose nothing under the proposed deal, because Illinois Masonic would keep all of its current services. But Ravenswood would have its comprehensive emergency room downgraded to a “basic” emergency room unable to receive 911 ambulances, and it would offer no inpatient services except for mental health and rehabilitation. The possibilty of a merger was reported in the Chicago Tribune’s business section on January 18, but nobody in the community seemed to notice. The Ravenswood Community Council found out about the deal a month later and quickly began to study its impact. “We got on the Internet to do some research,” said the group’s executive director, Richard Hankett. “We weren’t surprised to find out that there was a lot of overlap between the services offered by the two hospitals — the only differences were that Ravenswood didn’t have a trauma center, while Illinois Masonic didn’t have a chaplaincy. What we were surprised to find out was that Ravenswood ranked higher than Illinois Masonic on most services.” Those rankings came from HealthGrades.com, a Web site that analyzes the inpatient records of medicare recipients around the country and compares patient discharges from various hospitals. In a comparison of 13 respiratory, cardiac, orthopedic, and neural-system procedures, Ravenswood topped Illinois Masonic in everything but pneumonia treatment. The RCC concluded that Ravenswood-area residents would have to travel farther to receive treatment that might well be inferior. The RCC scheduled a community meeting after the merger proposal was formally announced in late March, and more than 200 people turned out. RCC vice president Harriett O’Donnell asked 12 specific questions about the deal’s impact on area residents and hospital employees, but instead of answering the questions Blair read a prepared statement. “Advocate is a faith-based, value-driven organization,” he said. “I can assure you that the most financially advantageous arrangement is not what we are seeking. We are a community partner.” Residents then offered comments and asked more questions, wh
Bartow County Government Annex
Bartow County Government Annex
Cartersville, Georgia

Nope, it's not a church anymore. So much for separation of Church and State!!

Located across the street from the historic courthouse.

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