BELOIT — A newly proposed surgery center in the Gateway Business Park in Beloit could result in financial strain for Beloit Health System and potentially cause the city’s largest employer to reduce core services, according to a health system news release.
The health system contends that the surgery center that allows overnight stays could put patients at risk due to a lack of available resources found at Beloit Memorial Hospital if complications arise, and not at a surgery center.
“BHS is committed to providing the best and most accessible care for our patients and our community, every day. We pride ourselves on providing not only excellence in Orthopedic Care, but also care for the entire family every day,” said Beloit Health System CEO Tim McKevett.
Another concern extends to the center’s ability to target specific patients with health insurance as opposed to accepting all patients regardless of their ability to pay.
Payments from insured patients helps to offset costs of patients who do not have insurance that is a common part of health care in the U.S. hospital industry.
“Without this financial support, core services like the Emergency Room, Mental Health and COVID care become increasingly difficult to maintain. The Trauma Center and hospitalists are available every day of the year. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Orthopedic Services have continued to be offered as patient care and safety remain top priority,” the health system release said.
BHS offers services ranging from surgical and non-surgical treatments, joint replacement, sports medicine, occupational health and physical medicine services including physical therapy, speech therapy and athletic training.
“We have been in a very strong position for a long time, and we will continue to be,” McKevett said.
Many staff associated with the health system voiced opposition to the project through comments submitted to the City of Beloit Planning and Building Services Division.
BHS Vice President of Finance Scott Leckey said the practice of for-profit entities would “undermine” the health system’s ability to care for all patients in the Beloit area.
Dr. Robert Sage said the risk of complication from surgery highlights the need for a network of physicians and staff available to support if patients face obstacles on the road to recovery.
“Having access to the myriad of other physicians that are needed to help to assist if we have to enact “Plan B” ensures patient safety, reduces medical costs and provides the best patient care,” Sage said. “This request for conditional use, would allow for the patients who experience these complications to stay the night, but would not offer the ability of these patients to see the specialists that they may need to ensure the safety and best care of these patients, this could present a public health concern.”
OrthoIllinois CEO Don Schreiner said the need for a new surgery center surfaced as its patient volumes at the Rockford location were nearing the point of exceeding capacity.
“Building this second center will allow us to divide our specialty surgical procedures between two centers within a reasonable distance from our clinics in Rockford,” Schreiner said. “Building this second center will allow us to divide our specialty surgical procedures between two centers within a reasonable distance from our clinics in Rockford.”
Schreiner said the overnight lodging stays for patients would be for those traveling from out of the Stateline Area to have a procedure, with the Beloit facility capable of drawing patients from the OrthoIllinois client base in the Chicago suburbs and the greater Illinois area.
Schreiner added that Beloit was chosen due to its proximity to Rockford and the Interstate 39/90 corridor, coupled with the business-friendly Wisconsin economic climate.
“Hendricks Commercial Properties, LLC, and the Gateway Business Park have been welcoming, great to work with, and understand that as OrthoIllinois grows its medical tourism outreach, having this center located in Beloit will bring increased revenues to local businesses,” Schreiner said.