QMG birth center, small-format hospital get state approval

Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 2:31 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 26, 2022 at 2:32 PM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board has approved a three-room birth center and a 25-bed small-format hospital that Quincy Medical Group has planned at the Quincy Town Center.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to give QMG permission to build the proposed $2.1 million birth center. QMG estimates it could be completed by June 30, 2023.

The board later voted 7-1 to approve the $61 million hospital plan after issuing an intent to deny a certificate of need for the project last year.

QMG formally made its presentations after a morning session of public comments. Several people spoke in favor of and against the facility, including Blessing Health System officials who said the projects would siphon profitable patients away from the hospital and endanger the hospital’s financial footing.

QMG CEO Carol Brockmiller said QMG physicians and staff maintain close ties with the region.

“Our physicians and employees live in the same communities of their patients in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri,” Brockmiller said.

She said the goal of the projects is to manage each patient’s “full continuum of care.”

“It’s all part of our mission to transform health care, and independent physicians are more likely to embrace value-based care than health systems,” Brockmiller said.

According to QMG, the small-format hospital will include 25 med-surg beds; 3 labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum or LDRP rooms, an emergency department with 10 bays; a C-section suite; 3 operating rooms; and 1 procedure room. The hospital will also include a post-anesthesia care unit, laboratory, pharmacy, and imaging department. Three of the medical-surgical beds will be equipped to serve as negative pressure rooms, or isolation rooms, to aid in future infectious disease outbreaks.

In her testimony, Blessing CEO Maureen Kahn pointed to a request from the Illinois Hospital Association to establish rules for small-format hospitals before approving any more. She also claimed QMG has not established a need for either the birth center or the hospital.

“The hospital application does not meet the Board’s need standards, and QMG has not produced credible alternative need forecasts,” Kahn said. “The Birth Center is simply not needed in this rural community, which already has excellent access to traditional and innovative obstetrical care.”

Kahn said the QMG projects would “irreparably harm” Blessing.

“They are designed to redirect largely commercially insured and lower acuity patients away from Blessing,” Kahn said. “Such cherry-picking is not innovation; it is predatory.”

QMG maintains the project will reduce the overall cost of care for families and individuals in the area.

“There’s no choice in-hospital care in Quincy,” said Tracy Klein, who represented QMG at the hearing. “There’s only one choice right now. And that’s really the main thing that this proposal is trying to to change.”

Kahn said 20% of Blessing’s overall inpatient payers have private, commercial insurance, and 75% are covered by Medicare, Medicaid or charity care. She said the hospital’s obstetrics inpatient unit is now 38% Medicaid patients.

Blessing officials also questioned QMG’s relationship with Duly Health and Care, formerly the DuPage Medical Group, and Ares Management Private Equity Group.

“QMG has not been adequately forthcoming about its new relationship and that lack of transparency is what lead me to rescind the Transfer Agreement for the proposed Birth Center, which Blessing signed in good faith, prior to QMG’s change of control,” Kahn said.

Shauna Harrison, QMG chief clinical nursing officer, said the birth center will offer an innovative choice for women.

“It offers choice for care in the community, respecting and facilitating a woman’s right to make informed choices about her health care and the health of her babies based on her values and her beliefs,” Harrison said. “As pregnant women are welcomed into the center, they are first screened based on predefined criteria to qualify for a low-risk pregnancy. Those that do not qualify will be referred to a traditional OB-GYN.”

She said those who do qualify will receive care from a team of midwives throughout their pregnancy, guided and supported by an experienced OB-GYN physician.

“The patient experience will include regular checkups and education on a variety of topics that will aid in their natural delivery, as well as care for their child,” Harrison said.

A statement attributed to Blessing Hospital leadership was released after the votes. It said: “We are deeply disappointed in the board’s decision to ignore its own rules and approve this unnecessary QMG Hospital and Birthing Center. Throughout this process, our unrivaled commitment to care for our communities and patients has never wavered. Unfortunately, the state board’s approval of both the QMG Hospital & Birthing Center will put these vital services at risk, including the impending loss of the only Sole Community Hospital status in the region. As we work to protect these services for our community we are reviewing all of our options.”



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