The state health department has revoked the trauma center designation of East Vista Medical Center in Waukegan due to a large number of doctors leaving the hospital.
On Friday, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), obtained by the Lake and McHenry County Scanners, sent a memo to EMS medical directors, coordinators and agencies.
Effective Friday, Vista Medical Center East is no longer a designated Level 2 trauma center for EMS Region 10 Illinois, the memo said.
IDPH requires EMS systems affected by this change to immediately update their trauma destination protocols and notify their EMS agencies.
The change means ambulances can no longer transport seriously injured patients to Vista and must instead transport them to other hospitals, such as farther away Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital or Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.
The change also means seriously injured patients who walk into Vista will need to be transferred to other hospitals. Patients with minor injuries can still be treated at Vista.
The Illinois Department of Public Health conducted an on-site investigation of Vista on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a letter this week.
The investigation included observations, record review, and interviews.
An investigation launched by the state after receiving complaints revealed that the hospital failed to meet federal requirements to participate as a hospital in the Medicare program.
The letter states that Vista Medical Center East failed to ensure that appropriate providers were available to provide necessary services to its patients and that the hospital failed to ensure that institutional plans and budgets existed.
“This is impacting the availability of services and supplies needed for patient care,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said.
The agency said Vista needs to take corrective action to address deficiencies identified by the state’s investigation.
In late December, Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek sent a letter to Vista Health System Board Trustee George Bridges outlining her concerns about Vista East Medical Center.
Vista Health System was formerly owned by Quorum Health Corporation and was acquired by American Healthcare Systems, which took over the company in July. This is the third ownership change in the past five years.
“As Lake County Coroner, I devote a significant amount of time to investigating preventable deaths. As you may have realized, health care access is a social determinant of health and can significantly impact mortality in a community,” Barney K said.
“The precursors to preventable death can often start with barriers to accessing quality health care. In fact, when we at the coroner’s office parse through the vast amounts of data, Waukegan is particularly vulnerable,” Banek added.
In addition to serving as the county coroner, Banek is a certified registered nurse anesthetist who has administered anesthesia to patients at Vista Medical Center East.
“The Waukegan community desperately needs hospital services; however, I have serious concerns about VMCE’s financial stability, which would compromise its ability to serve the Waukegan community and expose its people to further risk,” Banek said .
The coroner said doctors are leaving hospitals because they have either not been paid for months or the checks they have received have bounced because of insufficient funds.
“Many people who noticed these conditions tried to improve the situation with hospital administration, but to no avail,” Banek said.
Banek says The patient’s hip surgery was postponed because a prosthetic representative would not come to the hospital to assist with the surgery until he was compensated.
In November 2022, the hospital’s anesthesia team performed 45 cases of epidural labor analgesia, and this number dropped to 15 cases by November 2023.
Waukegan City Clerk Janet Kilkelly also noted a decline in Waukegan’s birth rate at an intergovernmental meeting in December.
Staff reported that obstetricians were sending patients to other hospitals because they were not being paid, Banek says.
Board Trustee Rick Harris told Vista Health System CEO Bianca Defilippi in an email that he felt “extremely disappointed” after reading Banek’s letter. disturbed”.
He said he has received similar complaints about Vista from residents, employees, contractors and politicians.
“In an era where it is difficult to attract and retain qualified healthcare talent, I believe AHS deserves to be so blatantly negligent and professionally irresponsible in not paying our bills or communicating honestly with contracted partners who are critical to our business. condemning and, more importantly, protecting the lives of our patients,” Harris said.
Banek also said in the letter that basic equipment such as hospital beds are often in disrepair and have broken brakes.
The coroner told the Lake and McHenry County Scanner she believes about half of Vista Medical Center East’s doctors have left the hospital since it was acquired in July.