URBANA — Payments on grants promised to more than 100 Illinois hospitals to pay for new equipment and building improvements will be on the way soon, Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday.
"There's no better investment than investing in health care," the governor said in an afternoon stop at Presence Covenant Medical Center.
In all, grants for state hospitals through a capital investment program — part of Quinn's $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital program launched in 2009 — total nearly $150 million.
About two-thirds of the hospital program money has been paid, with just over $58 million in grant payments remaining to be made, according go the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Local area hospitals together have been waiting on millions, among them Carle Foundation Hospital, both Presence hospitals in Urbana and Danville, Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center, Kirby Medical Center, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center and Gibson Community Hospital.
Carle's total grant of $847,610 was promised to pay for an emergency room expansion and clinical decision unit; amounts promised to the Presence hospitals included about $435,000 to renovate and expand its emergency department and the $592,585 to United Samaritans is to help pay for an indoor and exterior modernization of the hospital's 1957 building.
Spokesmen at all three hospitals say Carle, Covenant and United Samaritans got half the money and have been waiting on the rest.
Carle has completed all the work on its project and has had the new space in service since October 2012, its officials say.
"We appreciate the grant funding made available to Carle through the Illinois Jobs Now! capital investment program," Carle CEO Dr. James Leonard said in an emailed statement to The News-Gazette. "Carle used our grant to improve the emergency care experience for our patients."
Deb Schimerowski, chief financial officer for the Presence hospitals in Urbana and Danville, said Covenant is remodeling its emergency department in two phases to improve the patient flow, and did work on the reception and waiting areas with the money that was already received. The rest of the money will pay for work in the patient care area of the emergency room, she said.
The United Samaritans building upgrade will be a large project requiring other hospital funds, she said.
It will include new lighting, windows, electrical work, automated entrance doors and work on the exterior of the building, Schimerowski said. Work is expected to start later this year and continue into next year, she said.
Kirby Medical Center, which was promised a $340,855 grant to help pay for new medical equipment, information technology upgrades and a new ambulance, went ahead with the expenditures and waited for the state to pay on the grant. The hospital got half the money, but is "anxiously waiting," on the rest," its CEO Steve Tenhouse said.
"We, of course like everyone else, expected we would have had it by now," he said. "That, along with the backlog of (Medicaid) claims that the state still has from clinical services that we have provided, we need to be paid."
But the promise of money on the way is good news?
"It'll be good news when we get the check," Tenhouse said.
Sarah Bush Lincoln, Mattoon, also went ahead with the purchase of a new MRI and got half so far, Director of Diagnostic Imaging Stacia Goings said.
The grant covered less than half the $1.7 million project cost for the new MRI, which is already installed and in use, according to hospital spokeswoman Patti Peterson.
The hospital spends millions every year on equipment, and getting the rest of the grant means Sarah Bush Lincoln will be able to pay for something else it needs, Peterson said.
Quinn called the grant payments important investments not only in health care but also in the state's economy, and his announcement was welcomed by the Illinois Hospital Association.
The grants mean more than 114 hospitals across the state will move forward with critical work, hospital association President and CEO Maryjane Wurth said in a written statement.
"We greatly appreciate the state's investment in and partnership with hospitals and health systems. It is the right prescription for transforming health care and keeping the economy strong," she said.
The hospital association contends hospitals and health care systems have continued to be a bright spot in the economy, generating a $78 billion annual economic impact on state and local economies.
Money for local hospitals
Following is a list of local area hospitals receiving the second payment of their state grant money and the amount:
Carle Foundation Hospital: $423,805 to expand emergency room and renovate clinical decision unit.
Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center, Hoopeston: $170,720 for equipment upgrades for surgery and emergency room.
Dr. John Warner Hospital, Clinton: $172,565 for fire suppression system.
Gibson Community Hospital: $178,392 for radiology equipment.
Iroquois Memorial Hospital, Watseka; $191,735 for life-safety code upgrades.
Kirby Medical Center, Monticello: $170,427 for new medical equipment.
Paris Community Hospital: $172,812 to build multipurpose building.
Presence Covenant Medical Center, Urbana: $217,502 to renovate and expand emergency department.
Presence United Samaritans Medical Center, Danville: $296,292 for building renovation.
Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, Mattoon: $274,467 for new MRI.
Source: Governor's office