I want to thank the DeKalb County Citizens for Better Mental Health Care (CBMH) for keeping abreast of these developments and getting the word out.
In fact, if it weren’t for the ad hoc CBMH, there wouldn’t even have been a public hearing on the matter; hearings are not automatic and must be requested of the supervising state board.
This post combines facts from the application itself (the proposal requires approval of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board), my observations of the September 24 public hearing, and reports from CBMH co-chairs Barry Schrader and Eileen Dubin obtained at a press conference earlier this week.
Mergers vs. Acquisitions
Many people use the words interchangeably, but there’s a distinction between mergers and acquisitions and Northwestern definitely wants to acquire KishHealth. From the application:
In the proposed transaction, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare (NMHC) will become the sole corporate member of KishHealth System (KishHealth). As such, NMHC will have the power and authority to govern, direct and oversee the property, funds, business and affairs of KishHealth.
It’s a change of ownership that, regardless of the appointment of a few local people to serve on the new board, would effectively end local control over the second-largest employer in the county.
CBMH points out that when Kish acquired the DeKalb Clinic, the Clinic employees lost all seniority. In the case of staff cutbacks, they’ll be the first to go. What is there stopping the same thing from happening to Kish staff?
For that matter, what would stop Northwestern from closing some departments or facilities? Answer: apparently, not much. This, from the “affirmations” attached as appendices to the application (my emphasis):
[Northwestern] and KishHealth do not anticipate any reductions to the scope of services or levels of care currently provided at Kishwaukee Community Hospital within 24 months after the affiliation.
Same goes for Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich.