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OSF HealthCare moves to acquire closed St. Margaret's Hospital in Peru

St. Margaret's Hospital in Peru
Provided photo
St. Margaret's Hospital in Peru

Peoria-based OSF HealthCare will seek to buy the troubled St. Margaret's Hospital in Peru.

St. Margaret's leadership signed a letter of intent to sell the hospital and other unspecified Illinois Valley locations to OSF HealthCare in a letter of intent signed this week.

The hospital closed with just a few days' notice back in late January, leaving residents of the community without emergency medical care and other services, including obstetrics.

Pending regulatory approval, OSF HealthCare intends to reopen with an ER and "select other" inpatient services. There's no word if that includes an obstetrics unit, which is a major concern for LaSalle-Peru residents.

In a phone interview with WCBU, Peru Mayor Ken Kowolski said the acquisition is still preliminary, but a good sign.

"We don't want to get too ahead of ourselves, like this is going to be opening next month or anything like that, but it is definitely a positive step for Peru and the Illinois Valley region," he said.

An OSF HealthCare spokesperson declined an interview request on Friday, but said they're still making decisions about what other services beyond emergency care will be provided.

St. Margaret's affiliated with the former Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru in the fall of 2020.

Following the closure, hospital leaders said they would attempt to re-open St. Margaret's under a Rural Emergency Hospital designation eligible for enhanced Medicare reimbursements. But hospital officials later claimed that conversion plan was in jeopardy without "an immediate infusion of cash."

In a letter to employees dated Friday, St. Margaret's Health president and CEO Tim Muntz said the leadership had decided "after thorough exploration and much deliberation" to sign a letter of intent selling the hospital and other Illinois Valley locations to OSF HealthCare.

"Our colleagues at OSF share our faith in God and respect for life. Together, we are exploring how the Illinois Valley can continue to access high quality, local health care for years to come," Muntz wrote.

Both OSF HealthCare and St. Margaret's parent SMP Health System are Catholic health care systems.

OSF HealthCare already operates several health care facilities in the region, including OSF St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Ottawa; OSF St. Clare (the former city-owned Perry Memorial Hospital) in Princeton; and the former St. Mary's Hospital in Streator, which OSF reopened as a clinic with a freestanding emergency center.

OSF HealthCarealso acquired the former Galesburg Cottage Hospital last year after its former owners closed that facility.

WCBU's Isabela Nieto contributed to this report.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.