St. Margaret’s Health soon will be applying for the state’s permission to discontinue its Spring Valley hospital and consolidate services with its Peru hospital — an action that was met with displeasure from Spring Valley’s City Council on Tuesday.
The plan calls for emergency and inpatient services to move to St. Margaret’s in Peru, and continue outpatient and clinical services at St. Margaret’s in Spring Valley.
If the plan moves forward, there will be no emergency room in Spring Valley. Those patients would have to travel nearly 4 additional miles – or an estimated eight minutes, according to Google Maps – to Peru’s hospital.
Formerly Illinois Valley Community Hospital, Peru’s facility was purchased by St. Margaret’s and became part of its network at the start of 2021.
St. Margaret’s Health CEO and President Tim Muntz said the discontinuation of Spring Valley’s hospital status is necessary to maintain at least one hospital for the La Salle-Peru-Spring Valley region.
“Two hospitals can’t survive in this close of proximity in this kind of (rural community) setting,” Muntz said. “Our goal from the very beginning has been to maintain all the services we provide, and this is the best way for us to do that. If we don’t make this transition, we could be looking at none of the facilities being able to survive.”
Spring Valley Alderman Dave Pellegrini said the extra travel time to Peru for emergencies is substantial, and indicated patients to Spring Valley’s hospital come from neighboring communities, such as DePue, Hollowayville, Seatonville, Bureau Junction, Granville and Hennepin.
“I encourage residents to reach out to St. Margaret’s, or lawmakers, and ask them to rethink this,” said Pellegrini, who spoke about St. Margaret’s plans during Tuesday’s council meeting. “I understand the financial reasons behind this, but people’s lives are too significant.”
Mayor Melaney Malooley Thompson said the city intends to write a letter to St. Margaret’s expressing its disappointment in the decision and requesting an impact study on the residents of Spring Valley, and its neighboring communities.
Pellegrini referenced an internal communication distributed to St. Margaret’s employees on June 21. There have been no public announcements made about the plan to discontinue the Spring Valley hospital, but Muntz said the hospital wanted to communicate to employees first and move forward with required regulatory procedures.
St. Margaret’s in Spring Valley has 44 beds for inpatients and St. Margaret’s in Peru has 49.
St. Margaret’s intends to prepare a Certificate of Need to file with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board by Aug. 1 to discontinue the Spring Valley hospital, including the emergency department. This could be approved as early as Jan. 1.
“Our goal since the affiliation with IVCH in Peru has always been to achieve financial viability and structure our operation to maximize resources,” Muntz said.
An urgent care facility likely will be put in place in Spring Valley, Muntz said.
In May, Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law an amendment to the Illinois Hospital Licensing Act, which paved the way for St. Margaret’s to have the Spring Valley and Peru facilities operate under one license, Muntz said. The act was sponsored by state Rep. Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa, as a means to allow the two hospitals to operate under one administrative team and one board.
Earlier this year, St. Margaret’s Health consolidated all of its inpatient obstetrical services to the Peru hospital.
The St. Margaret’s internal memo said consolidating the hospitals also will help the hospital group cover schedules in many departments caused by staffing shortages.
Other initiatives listed in the internal memo included Peru facility improvements, consolidating to one anesthesia program, consolidating a pain clinic to Peru temporarily, then relocating it to Spring Valley, and expanded behavioral health services in the Peru Medical Office, among other items.