To the communities we serve,
As most of you have now heard, effective at 7 a.m., Saturday, January 28, 2023, all acute hospital services at St. Margaret’s Health – Peru will be temporarily suspended. This will include ICU, Emergency Department services, Obstetrics, Med-Surg/Peds, all surgeries, Lab, X-Ray and other outpatient hospital services. This will NOT affect primary and specialty clinics, nor physical therapy services at the Illinois Valley YMCA.
This outcome was never a part of our plan or goal when deciding to merge with former Illinois Valley Community Hospital. Together, we had shared a vision for more efficient delivery of high quality healthcare in the region and an opportunity to combine resources to enhance the services provided. Despite our efforts to consolidate and streamline services to encourage a stronger financial position, factors beyond our control have brought about many unforeseen fiscal hardships.
In a healthcare climate already plagued by economic concerns that have been growing for years, the COVID-19 pandemic, a cyber-attack (which prevented SMH from being able to bill nor get paid, in a timely manner, for the services we provided), and severe staff shortages have compounded this problem. Like many, we too, have had to contend with the rising costs of goods and services, as well.
With these hardships in mind, we set out to explore an opportunity to pursue the conversion of one of our hospitals into a new type of hospital called a Rural Emergency Hospital (REH). The REH designation (which was recently established by the federal government to address the growing concern over closures of rural hospitals nationally) seemed like a promising new opportunity to keep both our hospitals open.
Unfortunately, more unforeseen circumstances have hindered this plan. Our current provider of emergency room physician coverage at St. Margaret’s Health – Peru terminated their contract, effective 7 a.m. on Saturday, January 28, 2023. At present, we are not able to find, nor financially support, a new ER provider. Furthermore, despite recruitment efforts, we have been unable to attract enough staff to continue to operate both hospitals.
Because of this, we must temporarily suspend operations at SMH-Peru hospital. IDPH has advised us that hospitals cannot operate without an open and fully-staffed emergency room.
Please know the true essence of St. Margaret’s Health has always been, and still is, our employees and the citizens of the communities we serve. They are the most important assets we have, and without them, we cannot achieve our mission. As such, we would like to apologize to our employees and the community for not delivering our announcement in the best way possible. It was never our intent to blindside any of our employees or the community with such a sensitive and life-impacting announcement. As we move forward, we are working to improve our communication (to both our internal employees and the community alike).
Please bear in mind, these developments are new and unfamiliar territory for our St. Margaret’s Health Administration and Board of Directors. We are working to do our best to navigate these troubled waters and ask for your patience. We will continue to provide updates and clarifications as we learn more and become aware of any misinformation or confusion.