With just days to go for South Shore Hospital to receive $3 million in allocated funding from Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration at the Illinois Department of Public Health, safety net workers at SEIU Healthcare Illinois called out Governor Rauner for failing to lead on the crisis. Hospital workers said that Governor Rauner – along with the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA) with their corporate agenda — bear responsibility if there is any disruption to South Shore’s operation or reduced services.
The potential forced closure of South Shore Hospital would be devastating to its estimated 500 workers and negatively impact access to quality healthcare on the South Side of Chicago. In 2016, the most recent year of available data, South Shore recorded 15,899 emergency department visits and 2,080 emergency department admissions where patients required urgent and many times life-saving critical care. Of South Shore’s 25,400 patients that year, 89.2% were African-American.
Lastly, South Shore Hospital is located in a federally-designated Medically Underserved Area with multiple health care professional shortage areas including primary care, mental health and dental services according to U.S. Health and Human Services.
Which is all the more troubling that on the anniversary of Juneteenth of this year – the day slavery formally ended in the United – Governor Rauner spoke to an African-American radio station, WVON-AM 1690 and said, “I’ve done more for black business, for black economic opportunity and black education opportunity than anybody.” Rauner went on to say in the interview with WVON that he had done “historic things for the black community — I would argue more than any other governor.”
In response to the payment delays to South Shore Hospital, Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana issued the following statement:
“Well Governor, actions speak louder than words.
“Right now, on Governor Rauner’s watch, we are just days away from potentially seeing a vital safety net hospital that serves mostly African-American patients on the South Side and is a major employer and economic driver in a distressed area, close its doors all because of the administration’s inability to act quickly enough and make sure South Shore receives its emergency funding from the State.
“For a Governor who said he would run state government like a business, the fact that Rauner’s administration can’t cut a check on time to keep a vital safety net hospital open is outrageous.
“This is a failure of leadership. Communities of color across this City and State should hold Governor Rauner – as well as the IHA – responsible and accountable for how his administration is managing this crisis.
“We renew our fervent call to Governor Rauner and the Department of Public Health to move quickly and make sure that South Shore – and every other safety net hospital – has the resources to continue to provide emergency and life-saving healthcare to those who need it.
“We also call upon the Governor and Director Nirav Shah to work proactively and constructively with other safety net hospitals, like Roseland Community Hospital, whom our Union represents, and Saint Anthony, to guarantee that safety net hospitals receive their allocated funding to avoid any potential shortfalls or disruptions of services.
“Ultimately, this crisis could have been avoided if the Illinois Hospital Association had crafted a transparent and inclusive process over the Hospital Provider Assessment that decided which hospitals would receive federal Medicaid dollars. The IHA’s bias to favor rich and corporate hospital systems resulted in safety net hospitals receiving far less money and resources than what our communities, patients, and workers deserve in order to thrive and expand quality care.
“The IHA’s power and influence is becoming more and more clear, especially after witnessing how South Shore Hospital was shortchanged during the Provider Assessment review – and are now being forced into crisis mode because of Governor Rauner’s bureaucratic ineffectiveness and mismanagement.
“Our hospital workers rallied outside the IHA’s downtown office on July 23rd to send a clear message that these corporate healthcare lobbyists have too muchpower, and that they don’t seem to care about how their policies impact low-income workers and communities of color.
“The current funding crisis at South Shore Hospital is a stark example of that very fact.”