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‘Disappointed and Dismayed’: Local Officials Respond to Centegra’s Announcement

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Centegra Health System’s decision to cut services at Centegra Hospital-Woodstock surprised and upset some local officials.

“I am disappointed and dismayed by the decision to remove inpatient care from the [Centegra] hospital site in Woodstock, especially following the expressed support of the city of Woodstock when Centegra was looking to establish the Huntley facility,” said Mayor Brian Sager, who linked the 2016 opening of Centegra Hospital-Huntley to the reduction of services in Woodstock. 

“We entered into support for the Huntley facility in good faith,” Sager said. “... I think it’s unfortunate that there did not seem to be a realistic understanding or expectation as the expansion occurred in the region.”Centegra Hospital - Woodstock will suspend most inpatient services by August 14. Independent Photo by Whitney Rupp

Nonetheless, “I trust and it is my sincere hope that Centegra will continue to honor its commitment to providing readily available, high-quality health care” to Woodstock, Sager said.

City Manager Roscoe Stelford said City Hall was notified of the changes June 21. Centegra made its plan public that day.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed that they’re moving some of these services to McHenry and to Huntley, but I’m sure this is an effort to consolidate operations and to generate savings, hopefully, in the end, for the customer,” Stelford said. “But it’s always disappointing to lose services in the city of Woodstock.”

Woodstock Fire/Rescue District Chief Michael Hill said changing Woodstock's emergency department from a comprehensive ER to a basic ER could have a major impact on the way his crews operate and on the fire district’s finances. 

“The biggest change to us is going to be one of time that our ambulances are available,” Hill said. Depending on the severity of an illness or injury, many calls to 911 could require transports to Huntley or McHenry, which would add about 30 to 45 minutes per call, he said.

“When you add up 12 or 13 calls per day, it becomes pretty significant,” Hill said. 

Paramedics still will be able to provide the same care they always have, although if ambulances are unavailable, WFRD may have to call more often on other departments to provide backup, something Hill described as a “Band-Aid rather than a way of doing business.”

“If the consequences are as bad as we fear they could be, we could be looking at adding additional equipment and personnel,” Hill said.

Hospital administrators have plans to meet with WFRD officials to discuss the changes. Once that happens, Hill said, they will have a better idea about how to move forward.

“They are including us in talks,” Hill said. “They’ve got some preliminary information, but I don’t believe they know the ramifications of this 100 percent, either.”