Amid Probe, Sacred Heart Hospital Abruptly Closes

Owner Edward Novak at center of federal probe into alleged health care fraud scheme

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sacred Heart Hospital on Chicago's West side closed its doors for good on Monday, leaving patients and employees in the lurch. Christian Farr reports.

    Sacred Heart Hospital, which has served patients on Chicago's west side since the 1920s, abruptly shut down Monday, leaving employees and patients worried and confused.

    The action comes amid an ongoing investigation by federal authorities into an alleged health care fraud scheme.

    The Illinois Department of Public Health earlier in the day received a call from hospital staff indicating Sacred Heart, at 3240 W. Franklin Blvd., was shutting down operations and moving its patients to different hospitals.

    "It hurts," said Dean Paschal, who had been a patient at the hospital for 23 years, and who was expecting to have shoulder surgery there later this week. "They are like family to me down there."

    Back in April, the owner of the for-profit hospital, Edward Novak, and several executives were arrested and charged with receiving kickbacks from patient referrals, along with a scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid.

    Sacred Heart staff on Monday cleared out all of their personal belongings, many of whom said the closure came as a surprise.

    "I like the hospital. I like the smallness. I made some good friends," said a nurse who asked to be identified only as Jan.

    An IDPH spokeswoman said the state requires 90-day notification of a hospital closure. She said the facility could receive sanctions for abandoning that requirement and said department staffers were sent to Sacred Heart to look into the closure and to ensure patients were receiving proper care.