Centegra's Woodstock hospital to stop admitting most overnight patients

Centegra Hospital-Woodstock has stopped admitting most overnight patients as part of a slew of changes meant to save cash and become more efficient.

The hospital discontinued medical-surgical and intensive care services Aug. 12, and this week it filed applications with the state's Health Facilities and Services Review Board to make those changes permanent. Previously, it had 60 medical-surgical beds and 12 intensive care beds. It will still provide emergency room care and mental health crisis stabilization as well as inpatient behavioral health services and outpatient imaging and lab services.

Most patients who need overnight stays or surgery will be transferred to other hospitals.

The changes, and others, follow financial struggles for the three-hospital system.

As a result, 458 employees' jobs have been affected, with nearly all of them relocated within the system, said Centegra Health System spokeswoman Michelle Green. Nearly six full-time equivalent positions were eliminated, resulting in 10 employees losing their jobs, Green said.

"The changes throughout the system are one way we are addressing our financial losses and evolving along with our changing industry," Green said in an email. "By centralizing services we will become more efficient and reduce costs."

The system reported an operating loss of $30.1 million for the nine months that ended March 31, exceeding a budgeted loss of $10.2 million. The system attributed the losses, in a financial statement, to the costs of opening its new 128-bed Centegra Hospital-Huntley last year, to higher-than-expected write-offs for unpaid patient bills and serving more patients on Medicare and Medicaid.

A number of hospitals have cited similar challenges in recent years. West suburban hospital system Edward-Elmhurst Health announced plans this week to cut $50 million in costs, also citing increasing numbers of Medicare and Medicaid patients and more patient bills going unpaid, among other things.

In May, the state's largest hospital system, Advocate Health Care, announced that it would make $200 million in cuts for many of the same reasons.

As part of the changes in services, Centegra Health System is also shifting some beds to one of its other hospitals. It plans to add an additional nine intensive care beds and nine medical-surgical beds to Centegra Hospital-McHenry. It also filed an application with the state this week to convert four medical-surgical beds into intensive care beds at Centegra Hospital-Huntley.

The system also plans to move its inpatient physical rehabilitation — for patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries, amputations, spinal cord injuries and orthopedic injuries — from Centegra Hospital-McHenry to Centegra Hospital-Woodstock in 2018, pending state approval. Outpatient behavioral health services will also move to the Woodstock hospital.

In total, after all the changes, Woodstock will go from 106 beds to 56.

"The Woodstock hospital is evolving into a dynamic facility that will provide outpatient services and specialty inpatient care," said Michael Eesley, Centegra Health System CEO, in a news release. "As we enhance the services at the hospital, the community will see that Centegra Hospital-Woodstock will be busier than it ever has been."

Centegra Health System is also still in talks to join Northwestern Medicine, a deal that's expected to be finalized following regulatory approvals, said Northwestern Medicine spokesman Christopher King in an email Friday.

lschencker@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @lschencker

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