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Provident closing Ob/Gyn department

Thursday, September 02, 2010
Chicago Defender
by Wendell Huston

The only public hospital on the South Side plans to close its Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology on Oct. 15 due to under utilization.

Robert Hamilton, who was hired earlier this year as interim chief operating officer for Provident Hospital of Cook County, 500 E. 51st St., said the department delivers less than 300 babies each year.

“That’s about one birth every other day and that is not enough work to justify the staff,” he told the Defender. “So unfortunately those employees may be laid off if other vacant positions cannot be identified for them.”

Provident, which employs about 570 total, has 40 employees in the Ob/Gyn department. Thirty-five of the 40 could be laid off, according to Dee Clayton, a spokesperson for the hospital.

It costs nearly $8 million to operate the department, said Clayton.

“Our goal is to reopen the OB Department. Prenatal care for women would still be available but when a woman is ready to deliver we are referring them to Stroger Hospital (on the West Side),” Hamilton said.

The 113-bed hospital, which sees about 4,000 patients monthly in the Emergency Room, celebrated 17 years of service to the South Side on Aug. 17 as a unit of Cook County.

Another department could also close due to under utilization, he said.

“Our Intensive Care Unit is another department that faces closure. It is not used enough to generate an ample workload for the staff,” explained Hamilton. “If the volume is not there we cannot sustain it.”

Future plans for Provident include opening a new center of excellence for diabetes and a partnership with the University of Chicago Hospitals.

“We are in negotiations with the university that would allow it to have a physical presence here,” Hamilton, 59, said. “Provident is only using about 60 beds so we have extra space not being used.”

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender

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