Public hearing on Centegra set for Oct. 2, city’s meetings begin Sept. 18

As a public hearing on cuts at Centegra Hospital-Woodstock moves forward, the city of Woodstock is pushing to replace services that appear set to be eliminated.

In a press release issued Sept. 11, the city announced it had launched a campaign “to replace comprehensive health care services for Woodstock and the surrounding area” following the reduction of services at Centegra’s Woodstock hospital.

The campaign, called “Heal Woodstock’s Healthcare,” includes community meetings, a website and a call for local residents and business owners to speak during an Oct. 2 public hearing of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, which is considering applications from Centegra related to changes at its Woodstock hospital.

“This is an opportunity for every resident to have a voice in the future of health care in our community,” Mayor Brian Sager said in the release. “Municipal government has limited ability to influence private business decisions; however, Woodstock citizens’ input will have direct impact on the outcome for determining our future health care options.”

In August, Centegra suspended most inpatient care, intensive care and surgical services at Centegra Hospital-Woodstock. The health care provider subsequently filed paperwork with the IHFSRB to make those changes permanent.

Centegra officials have said their plans will improve health care in McHenry County by centralizing services and said some resources will be relocated to the Woodstock campus.

“Our long-standing position in this community has given us a deep understanding of the most pressing needs, and we have plans to meet them with excellent services in Woodstock,” Centegra CEO Michael Eesley said in a statement issued shortly after Centegra submitted its applications to the IHFSRB.

But Sager said city officials have an obligation to push for more health care in Woodstock and blamed Centegra’s finances for the cuts. Last month, Crain’s Chicago Business reported the health care provider lost $62.3 million in its last fiscal year.

“We deeply regret Centegra’s financial concerns have resulted in their removal of long-standing health care services for Woodstock families and residents,” Sager said in the release. “While we are grateful for their remaining services, our primary duty to our citizens is to ensure their continued safety and security, and comprehensive health care is fundamental to that sense of security.”

Sager added the city will “seek opportunities to fill the void” left by Centegra.

The city’s campaign doesn’t focus on convincing the state board to deny Centegra’s applications to end certain services. Rather, the emphasis is on the approval of new health care facilities in Woodstock, if an application is brought to the board in the future.

“Attendees’ comments and concerns [at the public hearing] will be entered into the record to establish verification of community need,” the city’s release said.

Prior to the public hearing, the city will host three community meetings on the issue: 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18, at the Woodstock Opera House Community Room, 121 W. Van Buren St.; 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the Woodstock Public Library, 414 W. Judd St.; and 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 22, at Stage Left Cafe, 125 W. Van Buren St.

The IHFSRB public hearing will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2, at the Opera House.

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