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Little Company of Mary Hospital to stop pediatric inpatient services

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 8/31/2018 Lisa Schencker

Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park plans to close its pediatric inpatient unit, joining an ever-growing list of Chicago-area hospitals doing the same.

The hospital has filed an application with the state Health Care Facilities and Review Board to discontinue its 20-bed pediatric unit by Nov. 1. The hospital cited declining demand for the services in its application, saying pediatric patients spent 680 days in the unit last year, compared with 722 days the year before.

"In light of the fact that we have seen decreasing pediatric hospitalizations, coupled with a dedicated children's hospital within our same service area, we are discontinuing our pediatric inpatient unit," said recently appointed President and CEO Dr. John Hanlon, in a news release.

The hospital also is discontinuing its Care Depot program, which functioned as a sort of sick day care, in which employees and community members could drop off their sick children for the day so they could go to work.

The hospital will still treat children in its emergency department, urgent care centers and in outpatient surgery.

A number of Chicago-area hospitals have stepped away from pediatric inpatient care in recent years as more procedures are done on an outpatient basis and amid stiff competition from children's hospitals. Last year, Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago and Amita Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village also slashed inpatient pediatric services.

Meanwhile, Lurie Children's Hospital has been growing. Last year, the state approved a request by Lurie to add 48 beds - 44 intensive care beds and four neonatal intensive care beds - at a cost of $51 million. Lurie also plans to add 24 beds for cancer and blood disorder treatment in 2019.

Little Company of Mary Hospital and Healthcare Centers and Rush hospital system recently called off plans to merge. The systems mutually agreed to back away from the proposed deal in April but provided scant details as to why.

lschencker@chicagotribune.com

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