West Side Hospital Faces Tough Decisions About Future

A West Side hospital that provides critical services for the disabled and low income patients faces tough decisions about its future.

Loretto Hospital leaders said Wednesday the facility is owed millions of dollars from insurance companies. If they don’t find solutions soon— they could be forced to cut more staff and programs.

"I was taking seven pills before I came here," patient Fred Henderson said. "I’m on two pills now."

For decades—Loretto hospital has served as a safety-net for countless patients on the West Side of Chicago.

Patients like Fred Henderson who rely on special programs they can’t conveniently access or afford.

"Without that I don’t have the education on my own," Henderson said.

The hospital’s CEO, George Miller, says Managed Care Programs through the state’s medicaid health insurance program owe the hospital $13 million.

He says the hospital goes months without seeing the funds needed for doctors and free patient screenings for HIV. That's a real problem when its 75 percent of the hospital’s revenue.

"It puts a tremendous pressure on us to make sure we meet payroll, provide the care we need, and be able to buy the drugs and supplies," Miller said.

Loretto hospital has eight floors but due to financial constraints, the hospital has been forced to consolidate operating floors now operating only on three.

"We’ve had to move our patients from this floor to another floor of the hospital," chief experience officer Tanesha Daniels said.

Hospital rooms become deserted as other consolidated floors become cramped.

"The reality is, at some point we are going to max out on that level and we’re going to have to refer out and they’re going to wonder why because they’ve been coming here for years," Daniels said.

But the head of the state’s association of medicaid health plans says they completely disagree with :oretto’s $13 million dollar bill.

They say the association has met with the hospital, and that insurance companies have prepaid them for issues in the past, made settlements, and are processing claims in a timely manner.

"The thing we will not do is compromise quality of care," Miller said.

For now, Miller is banking on state legislation in the works that would put deadlines on payments to safety-net hospitals.

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