Congressman LaHood addresses Peru hospital closure in Streator visit

‘We have to look at rural healthcare in general,’ congressman says

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Illinois)  tours the Streator Fire Department on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023 in Streator.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, addressed the closure of St. Margaret’s Hospital in Peru, the former Illinois Valley Community Hospital, in his visit to Streator on Tuesday.

LaHood toured the Streator Fire Department and spoke about the recent closure. He called the St. Margaret’s Hospital closure problematic, and while it’s not inside his district - Peru now is U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood’s district after redrawn maps - it’s an issue LaHood is following, because so many people in his district relied on that hospital for healthcare.

After redrawn districts, LaHood’s congressional district now encompasses portions of La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties, including Streator and Princeton.

“I think we have to question how it was done so abruptly and in the process of doing that, we need to figure out where particularly young women and families having babies go for that,” LaHood said. “It’s problematic from a federal standpoint. We have to look at rural healthcare in general.”

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Illinois) meets with Streator Fire Chief Gary Bird as he tours the fire department on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023 in Streator.

LaHood was referencing the closure of the obstetrics unit in Peru, which made Ottawa and Morris the next closest health care for expecting mothers in the La Salle-Peru region.

LaHood said he’s been a supporter on the Ways and Means Committee of helping with telehealth and telemedicine while trying to find out how to create adequate funding for rural healthcare systems in a way similar to how urban systems are handled.

St. Margaret’s in Peru is seeking a Rural Emergency Hospital designation, a new federal status that will open it to more funding. The designation became available Jan. 1 and the Illinois Department of Public Health is working on finalizing the implementation of the designation.

LaHood visited Streator’s fire department to see its new fleet of three ambulances and its less-than-two-decades-old facility. The city took control of providing 911 ambulance services last fall after its provider Advanced Medical Transport said it needed a city subsidy if it were to continue operating in Streator.