STREATOR — Streator will no longer have a traditional hospital — but would have a new outpatient center that could include emergency care — under an agreement announced Tuesday by current and future owners of St. Mary's Hospital facilities and the City of Streator.
"Like it, love it or hate it, a new health care delivery system is coming to rural America and we would rather have Streator at the head of the pack than at its trailing end," City Manager Scot Wrighton said in a prepared statement.
OSF Healthcare System and Hospital Sisters Health System announced an agreement to transition health care services in Streator from HSHS to OSF. The agreement follows a July announcement by Springfield-based HSHS that St. Mary's Hospital was for sale because Streator is 100 miles away from the system's closest facility, making sharing staff and equipment difficult. St. Mary's Hospital has about 300 employees — 244 full-time.
HSHS is discontinuing inpatient care at St. Mary's after Jan. 1.
Under the agreement, HSHS would donate St. Mary's facilities to Peoria-based OSF, which would use the former hospital building to provide outpatient services.
OSF, which has a physicians' office building in Streator, plans to build an outpatient center in Streator, said Karen Brodbeck, OSF executive director of public relations. The center would be a minimum of 30,000 square feet and would include 24/7 urgent care, imaging, laboratory, rehabilitation, specialty physician clinics and mammography.
Emergency care could be provided if allowed by the state, she said. Current state law doesn't allow free-standing emergency departments. Services would include a helipad to transport patients to OSF hospitals in nearby Ottawa, Pontiac or Peoria.
After a new facility opens, OSF could repurpose St. Mary's facilities. If that isn't possible, OSF would demolish them and restore the site within three years following the closing of the transaction, according to the agreement.
How many St. Mary's employees will become employees of OSF is not yet known.
OSF would need state regulatory approval if the project exceeds $12,495,668, said OSF Regional CEO Dr. David Gorenz.
"We feel we're well positioned to quickly meet the health care needs of the people in Streator and the surrounding area," Brodbeck said. She called OSF's plans "futuristic" as health care shifts to outpatient care.
Wrighton said, "Despite distinct differences of opinion with Hospitals Sisters Health System and their handling of all this, we have concluded that OSF is right about the face of modern health care: we have to fundamentally change the way we think about, and deliver, medical services in America."
"We believe OSF is the right Catholic health care partner in the best position to provide improved access to coordinated care for residents of Streator and surrounding areas for decades to come," said HSHS CEO Mary Starmann-Harrison.