Fight Over Chicago Real Estate’s Purpose Not Over

May 11, 2011

Oak Forest Hospital in Cook County will remain a hospital.

Cook County officials have said that they do not have the funds to operate Oak Forest as a hospital after June 1 and had requested the facility be converted into a regional outpatient center, a move that would have saved the county anywhere from $25 million to $40 million a year.

Oak Forest Hospital signOn Tuesday, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board said no.

The county needed five of the nine members on the board to vote yes and got four. Unfortunately, three of the board’s seats are vacant and one member was absent from the meeting. The lone ‘no’ was Ronald Eaker, a Republican from downstate Urbana.

The 213-bed hospital, which originally opened for tuberculosis patients, currently gets less than 10 patient admissions daily, since most people go there to see doctors on an out-patient basis.

The board is concerned that the elimination of the facility as a hospital would result in a shortage of hospital beds for southern Cook County residents.

“I’m very disappointed. We were hopeful that we would receive the support of the health facilities board today,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said after the vote. “It’s kind of back to the drawing board for us.”

Stay tuned.

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