August 26, 2014

Weekly Review August 26

Illinois Health Facilities and Services staff report recommends against proposed UCMC facility

A staff report from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board recommended against approving the University of Chicago Medical Center’s (UCMC) proposed facility in Orland Park. Without approval from the board the UCMC cannot build the proposed $69 million facility.

In May the UCMC signed a letter of intent with town officials in Orland Park to build a four-story building, including clinic space, commercial leasing space (likely for an independent retail pharmacy), and a two-story parking garage. The proposed facility would have a radiation oncology unit, an infusion therapy center, offer diagnostic imaging, and provide other specialized medical care. The UCMC already has several off-site clinics in Chicago and nearby suburbs.

According to the UCMC, the proposed facility in the southwestern Chicago suburb would increase outpatient capacity and expand access to specialty care in the region. The UCMC expects an increase in outpatient visits in the area due to more people receiving insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The UCMC also noted that many patients already travel to the UCMC main facility in Hyde Park, so many are already familiar with the UCMC.

The Review Board staff examined the 2012 profiles of the nine other hospitals in the region, finding in its report that there are underutilized services at each. The report concluded that the other hospitals in the region have the capacity to meet the demand for services, and the proposed UCMC facility would negatively affect those hospitals.

“With this project, UCMC would effectively bring our specialty services closer to home for thousands of current and prospective patients,” Assistant Director of the News Office at UCMC Ashley M. Heher wrote in a statement.  “We respect the Certificate of Need (CON) process and look forward to presenting UCMC's position on this project to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board.”

The Board received more than a dozen letters in support of the facility from a variety of officials in Orland Park, and a letter in opposition from Affiliated Oncologists, LLC. Affiliated Oncologists noted that several other facilities provide radiation oncology and infusion therapies near the proposed facility, two of the specialized services it would offer.

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board will vote on the proposed facility on August 27. The vote does not always follow the recommendation of the Board staff’s report.

UChicago Local begins second phase

The University of Chicago launched the second phase of its new UChicago Local program for area businesses and released data about the makeup of its staff on Friday. The University announced that nearly a third of its workers live on the South Side, and announced several new initiatives to increase the number of South Side employees.

UChicago Local is an initiative of the Office of Civic Engagement, launched in March, to support local businesses and workers on the near–South Side and connect them to job opportunities at the University and the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC). Phase one of the program emphasized supporting local businesses, with a focus on incorporating local vendors into the University through job training and connections to the University.

At the Friday Local Workforce Conference the University launched phase two of the initiative, focusing on local employment. The conference connected academics and workplace developers to discuss national and local trends in the workforce.At the conference, the University released a report with data on where its employees, excluding faculty, live. Of the approximately 18,800 employees, about a third live on the South Side and were paid $230 million in salary in the past year. Slightly less than two-thirds live in the city of Chicago, paid $579 million in the past year.

UChicago Local also announced plans to work with two Chicago nonprofits, the Chicago Jobs Council and the 741 Collaborative Partnership, at the conference. Through a partnership with the Chicago Jobs Council the University will work to train local professionals helping job seekers gain employment. With the 741 Collaborative, the University will develop a centralized referral system with one point of contact for job opportunities at the University and UCMC, and work with the Collaborative’s vendors and employees.