KCH Administrator Brad Copple said the decision to close
the unit was difficult and was because of declining usage and
physician coverage issues, including two extended periods in
which there were no admissions. A state study released in October
2008 found 33 excess acute mental illness beds in the geographical
area that includes KCH.
DeKALB Area residents asked a state panel Friday to
either deny the request, or at least postpone a decision, from
Kishwaukee Community Hospital to close its inpatient mental health
The Illinois Health Facilities Planning
Board held a public hearing Friday on KCHs request to close
its six-bed behavioral health center. More than 50 people attended
the 2 1/2-hour hearing, which was held in city council chambers
at the DeKalb Municipal Building.
its proposal to close the unit in November. KCH has provided
inpatient care for mental illness for more than 30 years, and
the state has twice decreased the number of beds in the unit
from 16 to eight and now to six.
spoke in favor of the proposal; nearly all of them worked for
KishHealth System, of which KCH is part of, and at least half
of those speaking were reading letters on behalf of someone else
affiliated with the hospital.
Dr. Thomas Kirts, former director of psychiatric services
at Kishwaukee Community Hospital, speaks against the closing
of the inpatient mental health unit at the hospital during a
hearing on the issue at the DeKalb Municipal Building in DeKalb,
Ill., on Friday May 8, 2009. (Provided photo)
The unit also has not
positively contributed to the operating margin of the hospital
for the 20 years that Copple has been involved with the hospital,
but he stressed that if the issue was just about money, KCH would
have closed the unit years ago.
over the last two years, however, has forced us to ask ourselves,
if provider coverage is problematic and utilization is dwindling,
is it time to accept the fact that others can more efficiently
and effectively deliver mental health services given the fact
that there is an overabundance of inpatient psych beds in our
planning area, he added.
Pam Duffy, vice
president of patient care services and the medical staff office
for KishHealth System, said KCH has transfer agreements in place
with facilities in Rockford, Dixon, Elgin, Aurora and Naperville
to take patients to the appropriate level of care.
hospital will be part of a task force that is forming to study
the mental health delivery system in the community, Copple said,
and will continue to make funds available for needed mental health
services, a point stressed by several KCH administrators.
Jerry Lane, a Sycamore resident and spokesman for
the DeKalb County Citizens for Better Mental Health Care group,
said it was regrettable that the hospital didnt reach out
to the community about mental health needs before filing its
request to the state.
Lane was one of 17 people
who spoke in opposition of the proposal almost all received
applause from the audience when they finished speaking
all said they wanted the hospital to continue to provide inpatient
services and not focus on outpatient services.
need we have is for inpatient care, and only the hospital is
capable of providing that service, Lane said.
those opposed to the proposal, several spoke about the importance
family and friends play in the treatment of mental health illnesses,
and said it would be a hardship to have to travel to visit them.
Others noted that patients would most likely have to have new
doctors when transferred to another hospital, who will not know
their medical history or treatment status. Almost all asked hearing
officer Karen M. Hall to postpone the states decision,
if not outright reject it.
Sheriff Roger Scott
spoke on behalf of his office, as well as DeKalb Police Chief
Bill Feithen and Sycamore Police Chief Don Thomas. All three
agencies have a good working relationship with the hospital and
rely on the inpatient mental health unit as a resource for residents
who are in danger of harming themselves or others, Scott said.
From Feb. 24, 2008, to Feb. 24, 2009, the sheriffs
dispatch center dealt with at least 60 suicidal situations where
people were taken to the hospitals emergency room, Scott
said. In 2008, the DeKalb Fire Department transported 199 people
for behavioral, suicidal, overdoses or poisoning, he added.
I believe this strongly indicated that from
the perspective of public safety there needs to be a local facility
that is able to effectively address the needs of our county community
of over 100,000 people, he said.
The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board is tentatively
scheduled to hear a request to close the inpatient mental health
unit at Kishwaukee Community Hospital at its July 15-16 meeting,
which starts at 9 a.m. at the Northfield Inn, Suites & Conference
Center, 3280 Northfield Drive in Springfield.
who was unable to attend the hearing who wishes to submit written
comments must submit them to the planning board by June 25. Written
comments can be addressed to Mike Constantino, Supervisor, Project
Review Section, Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, 525
W. Jefferson St., Second Floor, Springfield, IL 62761.
state report on the request is scheduled to be released July
1 and will be available online at www.idph.state.il.us/about/hfpb.htm.