Amita Health Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center Chicago is seeking approval to close its pediatric ward, the latest in a string of hospitals to do so, according to local news station WBEZ.
In its application to close the ward, the Chicago hospital said it had admitted just 134 children in 2019.
“After much thought and consideration, we believe our community will be better served in converting these needed beds into a general clinical medical/surgical unit,” said Bob Dahl, president and CEO of Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, to WBEZ.
The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board must approve Amita Health’s application.
The facility’s proposal illustrates a trend seen in Illinois and the US, according to the report.
Matthew Davis, MD, chairman of pediatrics at Lurie Children’s Hospital, called the trend worrying because it can create barriers to care, but noted that it is also difficult for community hospitals to support safe, low-volume pediatric inpatient care.
“What we wanted to understand are the circumstances that drive hospitals to make this decision, which affects the families’ access to hospital-level care for their children near where they live,” Dr. Davis to WBEZ. “It’s a challenging balance to strike because we know it’s very difficult to maintain high-quality, safe inpatient care for children in very low-volume hospitals. But we also want to try and optimize things for parents.”