County Hospital staff say administration proposals to limit pediatric admissions are “unnecessary and shortsighted” — and come at a cost of millions of dollars in revenues, potentially threatening the long-term viability of of the county’s entire health system.
Staff from Stroger Hospitals Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will speak at the Cook County Health and Hospital System board meeting Friday morning (April 26, 8 a.m., 1900 W. Polk) and will be available for the media shortly after the public comment portion of the meeting ends at 8:15.
They say that earlier this month, administrators told senior staff that patients should be turned away after 17 beds are full — the number was raised to 24 after an impromptu meeting with county health system chief Ram Raju last week, I’m told — due to “patient safety” concerns.
The unit has 54 beds and an average daily census of 29, and the safety issue is unfounded, staff say. Patient outcomes meet all standards, and the unit’s 1-to-3 or less nurse-to-patient ratio is in line with other hospitals — and much better than staffing levels in Stroger’s adult medicine and surgery wards, which far exceed staffing norms, according to a release from NICU advocates.
And in a health system desperate for revenue to fund care for the uninsured, the unit — all of whose patients are covered by Medicaid — generates betweeen $10 million and $14 million a year.
Advocates say they worry that the administration is “manufacturing a financial crisis” that could threaten the entire system county health system, which could provide a pretext for selling off the system.