Kishwaukee Community Hospital's proposal to close its behavioral
health unit is scheduled to be heard in July by the Illinois
Health Facilities Planning Board.
The board this week declared KCH's application is complete, according
to the board's Web site. The matter is tentatively on the agenda
for the board's July 15-16 meetings. That board is responsible
for ensuring that the distribution of various health services
in the state is fairly proportioned.
That means the state has "determined that all the information
they require is provided," KCH spokeswoman Sharon Emanuelson
Emanuelson said hospital administrators, including Vice President
of Business Development Joe Dant, plan to attend the July hearing
to present their proposal to the board.
"We're prepared," Emanuelson said.
KCH notified the state of its intent to close the behavioral
health unit which offers inpatient mental health services
in a Nov. 20, 2008, letter to the Illinois Health Facilities
KCH has provided inpatient care for mental illness for 33 years,
KishHealth System CEO Kevin Poorten said during a public forum
Monday night. The unit had 16 beds when it opened in the 1970s.
The state reduced that number to eight beds in 1998 and reduced
it again to six beds when the new hospital opened in 2007, he
In recent years it has become difficult to staff the unit because
most psychiatrists and clinical staff now prefer to work in an
outpatient setting, hospital officials have said, and KCH is
unsure it can provide the breadth and depth of services needed
in the unit.
The Illinois Department of Public Health State Summary released
in October 2008 found that there are 33 excess acute mental illness
beds in the geographical area that includes KCH.
During Monday's forum, several people spoke of the hardship that
families will have if they have to travel to see a loved one
being treated in another city, noting that the support of family,
friends and clergy from the community they call home can help
with the healing process. Others said closing the unit would
send the wrong message to the community about the importance
of treating those who with mental illness.
Anyone wishing to request a public hearing about the proposal
to close the unit has until March 28 to do so, according to the
planning board. Anyone wanting to submit written comments on
KCH's proposal must do so by June 25.
Additionally, a state agency report from the Illinois Department
of Public Health on KCH's request is scheduled to be released
July 1, according to the planning board. Written responses in
support of or opposition to the findings of that report must
be received by 9 a.m. July 10.
Copies of the application from Kishwaukee Community Hospital
to close its behavioral health unit may be viewed at the Illinois
Health Facilities Planning Board Office, 525 W. Jefferson St.,
Second Floor, Springfield, IL 62761.
To obtain a copy of an application, please call the office for
details and copying fees, at 217-782-3516.
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