May 14, 2010

Provident Hospital could be "good investment" for UCMC

The University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) is considering a cost-efficient way to send doctors to nearby Provident Hospital, which faces closure due to financial struggles.

A recent Cook County Health and Hospital Systems (CCHHS) study pegged the cost of keeping the hospital open at $38 to 52 million for full service under partnership with the UCMC. The study also suggested a second option of keeping Provident open solely as an outpatient facility, which would cost $18 to 27 million.

The UCMC already has $5 million set aside for funding Provident, but other funding sources have yet to be determined, according to a statement by the University. Another study may be commissioned to further examine the issue, according to UCMC spokesman John Easton.

The study was optimistic about a partnership between Provident and the UCMC. Despite financial obstacles, “the consultants suggest that it could be a good investment,” the statement said. Last year, the UCMC had considered giving $20 million to Provident in order to keep the hospital afloat, but did not finalize any plans while the hospital was facing closure.

County officials proposed closing Provident Hospital, currently operated by CCHHS because of mounting financial troubles and infrastructure problems. In 2009, Provident lost $98 million in part because it serves many uninsured patients; according to a UCMC statement, hospitals on the South Side of Chicago serve nearly double the national rate of uninsured patients.

Provident also faces deteriorating facilities that would need to be repaired in order for the hospital to continue operating. If the hospital were to continue operating under full service, it would need to pay for a new office building and purchase new diagnostic imaging equipment.

Should UCMC partner with Provident, it would do so under the auspices of the University’s Urban Health Initiative.