May 10, 2011; Source: | Two charity hospitals recently applied to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board for permission to close. One, in East St. Louis, was granted permission and another in Cook County was denied. The closing of charity hospitals often leaves low-income communities without a full range of health services.

In the case of the East St. Louis hospital, there are 39 psychiatric beds and an emergency room at stake but the facility is losing $5 million a year due to a very changed funding environment. It credited its work with the local community for the fact that there were no protestors at the state board meeting.

In contrast there were several dozen protestors there to oppose the closing of Oak Forest, the cook county facility. They held signs with pictures of patients who would have to be moved to nursing homes and burst into cheers when the decision to disallow the closing was made.

The closing of charity hospitals has become a point of pain for many low-income communities across the country over the past few years.—Ruth McCambridge