August 16, 2011
After twice rejecting the plan, a State of Illinois board voted on August 16, 2011 to allow Cook County to close Oak Forest Hospital.
The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board approved the proposal by a vote of 7 to 1, with one member voting present. It was the first time that the Health Facilities Board had considered the Oak Forest closure since Governor Pat Quinn in June 2011 filled three vacancies on the nine-member board. All of the Governor’s new appointees voted for the proposal.
As previously discussed here, the Health Facilities Board had previously turned down the plan in two separate votes, even though in each instance a plurality of members favored the plan. The Board voted 3 to 2 in favor of the plan at a meeting on March 21, 2011 and 4 to 1 in favor on May 10, 2011. State law requires at least five votes for passage, regardless of the number of board vacancies.
The closure of Oak Forest is a key component of a strategic plan to transform Cook County’s public health system by redirecting resources to outpatient care. Before the plan was blocked by the Health Facilities Board, County officials had planned to close the hospital on June 1, 2011 and begin converting the facility into a regional outpatient center.
After the two earlier board actions, the County instead suspended most hospital operations at Oak Forest with the exception of the emergency room. The hospital will officially close on August 31, 2011.