Citizens for Healthcare in Ottawa file Department of Justice complaint against OSF

Complaint says OSF using monopoly power to play ‘dangerous game’ with health care facilities, services

OSF HealthCare plans to build a new inpatient hospital in Ottawa, the hospital chain announced Wednesday in a news release. The new hospital will be built across the street, south of East Norris Drive (U.S. 6), on a vacant 31-acre plot of OSF-owned land, OSF said in its release. The current OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center was built in the early 1970s and is at the end of its useful life with infrastructure challenges necessitating this decision, the hospital said.

The Citizens for Healthcare in Ottawa recently filed a complaint with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice regarding OSF HealthCare’s plan to build a new Ottawa hospital and move medical services currently in Ottawa to Peru.

The complaint filed with the Department of Justice says “OSF is using its monopoly power to play a dangerous game of chess with the health care facilities and services” in the Ottawa area. OSF is the only provider of hospital services in the Ottawa planning region, which includes La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties, CHO said in a news release Saturday.

Under the OSF plan, Ottawa will lose all five intensive care beds and all 14 obstetric delivery beds. The plan will further reduce Ottawa’s medical/surgical beds from 54 to 12. This action will make Ottawa one of the smallest medical/surgical units in the state, according to CHO.

The CHO group, made up of concerned citizens, also is objecting to OSF’s application before the Illinois Health Facility and Services Review Board to build a new facility in Ottawa that eliminates ICU beds and obstetrics, moving those services to Peru.

The proposed OSF St. Elizabeth-Ottawa will have a 26-bed inpatient behavioral health unit, 12 medical/surgical beds and a surgery suite, emergency services, diagnostic imaging and outpatient care services. OSF, however, has said Peru’s hospital, which reopened in April, will serve as its hub hospital, including 45 medical/surgical beds, eight ICU rooms, 11 obstetric rooms to support a regional birthing center, surgery and procedure rooms, emergency services, diagnostic imaging and outpatient care services.

The complaint filed with the Department of Justice was submitted by Colleen Burns on behalf of the CHO organization.

“We now also look to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate this matter as a true health care monopoly that will undeniably have impacts to patient safety, hospital staff working conditions and affordable and accessible health care for patients and taxpayers,” the complaint concludes. “OSF is making a business decision that supports their financial performance and growth plans to appease their system’s senior leaders and the bond market investors.”

The complaint comes ahead of a public hearing 4 p.m. Thursday, June 13, at Central Intermediate School, 711 E. McKinley Road. The hearing is open to the public to present written or oral comments about OSF’s application to the Illinois Health Facility and Services Review Board, ahead of its August consideration on the application.

The Ottawa City Council, Marseilles City Council and Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce have all issued resolutions against OSF’s application. The La Salle County Board is expected to consider voting on their own resolution. The La Salle City Council has issued a resolution in favor of OSF’s application.

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