Local nurse shares concerns after closure of Mercyhealth PICU

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) ─ Mercyhealth recently announced it’s pediatric intensive care unit would be closed.

“My biggest concern in all of this is how this is going to ultimately effect the patients,” said pediatric intensive care nurse Emily Haase.

Emily Haase has worked in Mercyhealth’s pediatric intensive care unit since 2014. Local mom Abby Bauer says Emily has been taking care of her son Mason since he was one.

“My son, when he was a year and 10 months, he drowned in a swimming pool, so he has a brain injury from that, ” said Bauer. “He is five now, so we’ve been going to Mercy since 2016 when his accident happened.”

Mercyhealth is the only hospital in northern Illinois designated for women and children. Bauer says she will now have to take her son to Chicago.

“That’s, so far, and the scariest thing to think about because when he gets sick he gets very, very sick and he needs care very quickly,” said Bauer. “That’s why we go to mercy, not only because it’s close, but because we’ve been there ever since his accident.”

In a statement to Eyewitness News Mercyhealth gave the reasoning behind its decision. Mercy administrators say, on average, only three pediatric beds were being used every day. Mercy also noted that adult beds can be used for children, but pediatric beds cannot be used for adults.

As part of a bed capacity and utilization evaluation, Mercyhealth found utilization of our pediatric intensive care beds has been low with an average daily census of 3. Further, we decided to change the designation for the pediatric beds to adult beds because we can use an adult bed for a child, but we cannot use a pediatric bed for an adult. This will give us more flexibility to utilize these beds based on patient need. We understand this is an incredibly hard time for our staff so to be transparent, Mercyhealth spoke to the pediatric specialists while trying to work on the issues with the State of Illinois, the MCOs and evaluating our pediatric services and capabilities. We are working every day to try to turn this stituation around.

As part of a bed capacity and utilization evaluation, Mercyhealth found utilization of our pediatric intensive care beds has been low with an average daily census of 3. Further, we decided to change the designation for the pediatric beds to adult beds because we can use an adult bed for a child, but we cannot use a pediatric bed for an adult. This will give us more flexibility to utilize these beds based on patient need. We understand this is an incredibly hard time for our staff so to be transparent, Mercyhealth spoke to the pediatric specialists while trying to work on the issues with the State of Illinois, the MCOs and evaluating our pediatric services and capabilities. We are working every day to try to turn this situation around.

Barb Bortner – Vice President, Mercyhealth

“All of those families have become families for us over the years,” said Haase. “I mean, we actually see each other outside of the hospital sometimes and celebrate birthdays with some of these kids. It’s going to be a lot if they decide to stop this. They’re stopping more than just a unit, it’s a family, it’s an entire family.”

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