BLUE ISLAND, Ill. — When news came earlier this week that Blue Island’s Metro South Hospital would be closing, the unexpected announcement sent a Code Blue throughout the area.
Elected officials from the local and county levels, as well as a representative of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, convened a community meeting Thursday to strategize about how to move forward.
State Representative Bob Rita (D-28th District) is leading the way, saying said while he too was blindsided by the news, local leaders are going to reach out to the hospital and its parent company.
“We are going to reach out to them to see what we can do, sit down and see what we can do,” Rita said.
While its ER is a regularly busy place, in its notice about the closure Metro says it boils down to small patient volume and demand for services throughout the hospital.
Now there is concern that other hospitals like Palos Hospital, Christ Medical Center and Little Company of Mary Hospital are too far away for immediate care. Further complicating matters, Blue Island’s heavily used railroad tracks already slow down first responders.
If Metro does close another hospital, there is talk it could reopen to offer different medical services such as specialized care, dialysis treatment,
mental health, substance abuse and the like. They could even look to partner with local nursing schools in some capacity. Additionally, officials say the local operator would need to pay back the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) the hospital received.
Larry Garetto owns a business in Blue Island and serves on the hospital’s advisory board. He says the medical professionals at the old St. Francis and Metro saved his life after a couple of heart attacks.
“It’s a beautiful building. It’s a shame to sit there. The community needs an ER somewhere to go and we got to find something,” Garetto said.