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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Plainfield and Joliet still need another hospital

Edward Plainfield
By Ted Slowik

Remember when Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich went to prison for corruption? One of the schemes he was convicted of was shaking down Naperville's Edward Hospital, demanding campaign support in return for state approval of a hospital Edward wanted to build in Plainfield.

After Rod's ouster, Gov. Pat Quinn replaced the entire Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, which nonetheless STILL refused to acknowledge the need for another hospital here in Will County. Since then, Silver Cross Hospital has left Joliet and moved 3 miles east to New Lenox. Need for medical care in Joliet has never been greater.

Take my experience, for example. When I had a heart attack on Feb. 17, I spent four days in the intensive care unit. The doctors said I could be moved to a regular room on the third day but guess what? There were no beds available. The hospital was completely full. By the way, the cost for a night in a regular hospital room is about $5,000. The cost for a night in the ICU is about three times that.

Several weeks into my recovery, my cardiologist cleared me to begin cardio rehab, which takes place at Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet. Demand for service was so great I had to wait more than three weeks for an opening. That's three weeks wasted in my rehabilitation schedule. Three weeks of lost productivity when I might have been able to return to work sooner, all because space was not available to accommodate patients.

You don't hear much anymore about the need for the Plainfield hospital, though three years ago Plainfield's mayor said the project remained a priority for the village. At the time, Edward said it had no plans to revive its proposal. Although the state refused to approve Edward's request to build an eight-story, 162-bed full hospital at 127th Street and Van Dyke Road, Edward did earn state OK to build and operate a cancer center, emergency facility and other medical offices on its 60-acre campus.

I received excellent care at St. Joseph, which took the name Presence when Provena and Resurrection Health Care recently merged. I have no complaints about the staff or facilities, I just wish demand wasn't so great for the services they provide. It's obvious to me that the existing population in Joliet and Plainfield is sufficient to support another full-service hospital in Will County.