Nurses Question Cook County's Decision To Close Provident Hospital's ER


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Nurses at Provident Hospital on Chicago's South Side are questioning why they weren’t given more notice about plans to close the emergency department for a month.

Members of National Nurses United, the union representing several nurses at Provident Hospital, call the move by Cook County Health ‘abrupt and dangerous.'

Part-time nurse Dennis Kosuth said he learned the ER was closing Monday from a newspaper article, not his supervisor. He calls the decision "stunning" that Cook County did not collaborate or communicate better with employees about the closure amid the pandemic.

"There was zero consultation, there was zero communication they were thinking about this. I mean you would think that if you are going to change something very drastically that you would at the very least ask people in the community," he said. "It's terrifying for the people in the community. I mean if you look at the numbers, 68 percent of people who have died from COVID in the city are African Americans. This hospital is in the middle of an African American community."

Cook County Health said Provident's small ER does not accept ambulances and closing it will reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, while other, larger hospitals, such as Stroger, are better positioned to treat such complex patients. 

While Kosuth and the union agree Provident’s emergency department is too small to handle the fight against COVID19, they take issue with the county’s lack of notice or consultation about the move.

A spokesperson said the reasons were laid out in an CCH announcement last week.

Cook County Health said the month-long closure will allow Provident to reconfigure the ER - putting more space between patients and setting up isolation areas to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus. 

Staff in the meantime is being reassigned to Stroger or other parts of the health system.