Review board approves reorganization of rehab beds in Peoria region, other projects

The Illinois Health Facilities Services and Review Board approved various projects at its first meeting of 2023, including a restructuring of rehabilitation beds in the Peoria region.

The plan by UnityPoint Health calls for the establishment of a 20-bed comprehensive physical rehabilitation unit at Proctor Hospital in Peoria. As part of the project, the health system said they will discontinue a 39-bed rehab unit at Methodist Medical Center of Illinois in Peoria and a 43-bed long-term care unit at Proctor.

Tanya Doolan, nursing and therapy director at Methodist, said the health system suspended the long-term care unit in 2020 due to staffing challenges. The site was renovated in 2017, which Doolan said will provide modern amenities like larger showers, a large dining area and space for patients’ families.

“There are amenities that our current rehab center doesn’t have or doesn’t have in size, so it would be a huge benefit to not only the patient, but to the family members that we highly encourage to come and participate in the therapy,” she said.

The board approved the discontinuation of the two units at Tuesday’s meeting. The three applications did not have an associated cost. Dr. Keith Knepp, CEO of UnityPoint Health-Central Illinois, said the project also reduces an excess of rehab beds in the Peoria region.

The hospitals are set to join Carle Health on April 1, and Knepp told the board that Carle is fully supportive of the move.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of March.

In other business, the review board approved a nearly $34.7 million plan by Sunset Home to build a 106-bed long-term care facility in Quincy, which will include 70 private and 18 semi-private rooms.

Sunset Home attorney Juan Morado Jr. told the review board the project is essentially a relocation of an existing 132-bed facility operated by the company at the same campus, with residents to be moved to the new facility upon completion.

Jerry Neal, administrator for Sunset Home, said they have increasingly seen the need to downsize capacity in the region, but also provide upgraded accommodations for residents.

“We’ve been a significant provider within the Quincy community for over 130 years, and we hope this facility will help do that for the next 100 or so years,” he said.

The anticipated completion date is August 2025.

Additionally, the board approved an $11 million plan by Ascension Illinois to build an ambulatory surgical treatment center at Ascension Saint Joseph-Chicago. The center will have four operating rooms and provide orthopedic, pain management and podiatry services.

John Baird, CEO of the hospital, said the proposal will convert four operating rooms located within its outpatient center into the surgery center.

“Saint Joseph hospital and our parent organization, Ascension Health, believe that improving quality, increasing access, improving affordability … (is) vital to the communities we serve throughout the Chicagoland area,” he said.

The review board also:

·     Approved a $12.2 million plan by Surgical Center for Human Reproduction to establish an assisted reproductive technology ambulatory surgical treatment center in Chicago.

·     Approved a $3.4 million plan by Chicagoland Surgery Center to establish a single specialty ambulatory surgical treatment center in Oakbrook Terrace. In conjunction, the board approved a plan to discontinue services at the Eye Surgery Center Hinsdale.

·     Denied a $125,000 plan from Dialysis Care Center Holdings to add seven stations to an existing nine-station facility in Chicago Heights.

Illinois to end public health emergency in May

Illinois’ public health emergency will end May 11, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Tuesday.

The end of the emergency, which has been in place since March 2020, aligns with the end of the federal public health emergency, announced Monday by President Joe Biden.

“Our state’s disaster proclamation and executive orders enabled us to use every resource at our disposal from building up testing capacity and expanding our healthcare workforce to supporting our vaccine rollout and mutual aid efforts,” Pritzker said in a statement, adding that the threat of COVID-19 remains for those with compromised immune systems.

The public health emergency allowed for various healthcare flexibilities, including the suspension of Medicaid redeterminations.

The federal spending law enacted in December decoupled the continuous enrollment policy from the federal COVID-19 public health emergency. Department of Healthcare and Family Services officials said last week that the first round of Medicaid redeterminations in Illinois is anticipated to begin in April, with the earliest date that members could lose coverage being July 1.

There have been a total of 4,019,768 COVID-19 cases and 36,091 deaths in Illinois, according to the most recentdata from the Department of Public Health.

Senate announces committee chairs

The Illinois Senate has laid out the heads of its committees for the coming legislative session.

Among the notable healthcare committee appointments include:


·     Sen. Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights, who will chair the Appropriations-Health and Human Committee.

·     Sen. Laura Fine, D-Glenview, who will chair the Behavioral and Mental Health Committee.

·     Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Lake Forest, who will chair the Health and Human Services Committee.

·     Sen. Napoleon Harris III, D-Harvey, who will chair the Insurance Committee.

·     Sen. Karina Harris, D-West Chicago, who will chair the Public Health Committee.

The Illinois House of Representatives announced its committee chairs last month.

Medicaid rolls continue growth in November

The state’s Medicaid managed care rolls continued to see growth in November, according to recent data from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

Enrollment in HealthChoice Illinois was 2,909,303 as of Dec. 1, up about 1.2 percent from the 2,874,700 enrolled on Nov. 1.

Four of the five health plans saw an increase in enrollment.

As of Dec. 1, enrollment totals were:

·     Aetna Better Health – 431,951 (0.9 percent decrease from Nov. 1)

·     Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois – 743,232 (2.6 percent increase)

·     Molina Healthcare – 349,438 (1.6 percent increase)

·     CountyCare Health Plan (Cook County only) – 448,307 (1.3 percent increase)

·     Meridian Health Plan – 899,475 (1 percent increase)