WASHINGTON PARK — Cook County Health clinics in Woodlawn and Bronzeville are set to shut down and transfer operations to Provident Hospital as the health system works to reduce an estimated $187 million deficit for next year.
Services at Woodlawn Health Center, 6337 S. Woodlawn Ave., and Near South Health Center, 3525 S. Michigan Ave., would be shifted to the John Sengstacke Health Center at Provident Hospital, 500 E. 51st St., under the health system’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2021.
Officials said the closures are a “move” of the clinics’ services a few miles down “to one central campus.” No jobs will be lost and patients at the two clinics often are referred to Provident for services already, spokesperson Deborah Song said.
“Woodlawn and Near South are very outdated and antiquated health centers in spaces that we lease,” Song said. “We’re looking to move them to Provident where there’s a more robust and full line of services.”
Health care workers’ unions criticized the budget plan at a rally Friday afternoon, citing concerns over accessibility for Woodlawn and Bronzeville residents and the optics of shuttering South Side clinics during the coronavirus pandemic.
“What Cook County Health System’s leadership has proposed are cuts to emergency and other crucial health services in communities of color,” said Jeffrey Howard, executive vice president of SEIU Local 73. “These communities are already bearing the brunt of the COVID pandemic and this economic downturn.”
Other aspects of the health system’s proposed 2021 budget include:
- A new outpatient dialysis center, a new lifestyle center for patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases and an expansion of surgical procedures at Provident.
- Transitioning Provident’s emergency room to a standby emergency department.
- Closing Stroger Hospital’s general pediatric inpatient unit “due to low volumes”; pediatric and neonatal intensive care services will remain.
The Cook County Health Board of Directors is expected to approve the budget Sept. 11. It then will be reviewed by the Cook County board as part of its county-wide budget recommendation.
Public budget hearings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 1 and 6 p.m. on Sept. 9. To submit written comments on the proposed budget, visit the Cook County Health website.
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