Columns | Daily Chronicle

Eye On Illinois: State can’t afford to lose its rural hospitals

Sometimes you know when you hit rock bottom. Sometimes that’s a false reality.

On Jan. 28, St. Margaret’s Hospital formally closed its Peru location, the formerly independent Illinois Valley Community Hospital. On May 17, a company memo revealed worsening conditions: the chain will close several clinics by June 9 and may have to close the hospital itself June 16 without additional state funding.

In January, a longtime reader wrote to express disappointment in “the lack of information and investigative reporting that could have or should have been done in the past two years leading up to this point. Yes, the actual closing announcement came as a surprise when it was announced with such a small window of warning. However, this is a story that has been in the making ever since the actual merger of St. Margaret’s Hospital with IVCH.

“At the time, IVCH was in dire shape financially, which was the main reason for giving up their independence. St. Margaret’s was also not in the best of shape. In the meantime, with Obamacare changes, the COVID pandemic and some cutbacks to medical reimbursements, it was pretty easy to see all hospitals, particularly rural ones are going to have a tough time. …

“This is just part of an overall health crisis in our country,” the reader continued, explaining many conversations since the merger: “Talking about the shortage of doctors and nurses in our area. Talking about hospital changes being dictated by the insurance companies. Talking about financial problems at our hospitals as a result of Medicare payments which may be too short, and Medicaid funding that is too small and far behind in getting reimbursed from the state.”

Between what hospitals provide in medical care and employment, any closure is devastating. The Spring Valley situation is unfortunately not unique, nor is this challenge specific to Illinois. But if Springfield fails to adequately respond, the fiscal and community consequences will be broad and severe.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: An April 5 item covered Senate Bill 2288, a commonsense plan to amend the Articulation Initiative Act in hopes of eliminating situations where community college students have to repeat courses at four-year schools. The Senate advanced it 57-0 in April, and last week a 111-0 House vote sent the bill to the governor.

According to Capitol News Illinois, the Articulation Initiative partnership between the Community College Board and the Illinois Board of Higher Education covers 18 majors in which community college classes are counted as equivalent classes at a state university. SB 2288 grants course parity under all 18, from computer science to theater, and requires the Initiative to create an equivalency plan for elementary and secondary education; early childhood education already is covered.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at