Stadelman opposes Mercy decision to close mental health unit

State Senator Steve Stadelman and State Rep. Maurice A. West II voiced their disapproval to Merchyhealth's closing of its mental health unit during a hearing Thursday in downtown Rockford. Senator Stadelman's remarks to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Board are below:

"It seems odd to ask this Board to deny Mercy's request to close its behavioral health unit, when the health system has effectively done so already. Still, that's precisely my request.

Mercy has stated publicly the reason for the closure is the unit's only full-time psychiatrist left the company July 19. How much advance notice did Mercy receive? Did Mercy try to find a replacement? Or did Mercy just conveniently wait until the end of the 30-day time period before its requirement of notifying the Board of this so-called "temporary" closure. Under the rules, Mercy is supposed to update the Board on the progress for correcting the issue. Clearly, Mercy had no intention of following the rules and keeping the unit open before this Board made its decision.

I believe Mercy should be held accountable for its actions.

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 As to the larger issue of whether these inpatient beds are needed in this community, I've always heard from experts and advocates we need more inpatient services, not less. Mercy claims low demand for those beds. But why is that? This claim needs to be probed further. Advocates believe Mercy's refusal to accept the types of insurance most mental health consumers use is one reason why the hospital system reports lower patient numbers. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact, in today's Rockford Register Star, SwedishAmerican's Chief Operating Officer told the newspaper the closure of the behavioral health unit is placing pressure on remaining mental health resources in Rockford, and patients are being forced to seek help outside the area. By granting Mercy's petition, this Board will allow Mercy's leadership to abandon the very situation they're responsible for creating.

Finally, five years ago, Mercy appeared before this Board requesting to build a new hospital on Riverside Boulevard. Its slogan was "one hospital, two campuses." Mercy's President and CEO promised then that the Rockton Avenue facility located in the disadvantaged part of town would not lose anything. But the disadvantaged part of town has lost out, including level two trauma emergency services and now the behavioral health unit. This year, Mercy will receive millions of dollars more under the state's new hospital assessment program for Medicaid funding and an additional $2 million from this year's state budget to help safety-net hospitals.

The state has increased its commitment; now it’s incumbent upon Mercy to keep its promise to provide quality health care across ALL our community."

Drive-through T-shirt giveaway replaces HoopStars tournament for 2020

Boys and girls who might have played in what would have been the eight year of State Senator Steve Stadelman's youth basketball tournament instead can obtain their customary event T-shirt during a Labor Day drive-through giveaway.

Stadelman announced today that he won't be hosting the popular free 3-on-3 competition because of concerns over transmission of COVID-19. Senator Stadelman's HoopStars has drawn as many as 400 players and hundreds more spectators to what for several years took place outdoors in Davis Park and more recently has occupied the UW Health Sports Factory, both in downtown Rockford.

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"As much as I believe in providing this no-cost, positive activity for young athletes in the Rockford area, the ongoing global pandemic simply prevents safe competition among kids as well as the enthusiastic families and friends who cheer them on," Stadelman said, noting recently released state health guidelines that don't allow competitive play in basketball. "Hopefully, we'll all be able to return to the courts next year with the current health crisis behind us."

While HoopStars has attracted teams from across the country, Stadelman established the event especially for inner-city youth. The tournament's launch in 2012 coincided with the demise of On The Waterfront, an end-of-summer street festival that had taken place downtown for almost 30 years.

The afternoon-long contest, which traditionally gets under way immediately after the annual Labor Day parade, has become known for its diversity and the good-natured rivalry between teams in school grades 3 to 8. Shirts will be handed out to families with children in those grade levels on a first-come, first-served basis.

WHAT: HoopStars T-Shirt Giveaway

WHEN: Noon to 2 p.m., Monday, September 7

WHERE: UW Health Sports Factory parking lot, 305 S. Madison St., Rockford

Face masks that promote the U.S. Census in English and Spanish -- "Make It Count" and "Hazte Contar" -- also will be distributed. Available shirt sizes are youth large, adult small, adult medium and adult large.

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
Senator 34th District
121A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8022
 
District Office:
200 S. Wyman St., Suite 301
Rockford, IL 61101
(815) 987-7557
(815) 987-7529 FAX