Roseland Community Hospital: Earmon Irons, CEO

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One of the largest employers in the second congressional district on the South Side of Chicago is Roseland Community Hospital, a small community hospital licensed for 162 beds, but with an active capacity of about 100 beds. The campus also includes a medical office building. The hospital employs upward of 450 people and has a net revenue of approximately $65 million per year. Roseland first opened in 1924.

“We are a safety-net hospital, which means a significant portion of the patients we serve are self-pay,” Earmon Irons, CEO, said. “That means a high percentage of the people who come through our emergency-room doors are underinsured or have no insurance at all.”

The hospital is subsidized by the state and federal governments because of the high percentage—approximately 25 percent—of self-pay patients. These subsidies help to offset some of the $20 million that had to be written off as bad debt last year.

“We don’t come anywhere near regaining it all, but we receive some help from the federal and state governments,” Irons said.

Growing Toward Economic Viability

Roseland has gone through a rough patch in the last decade, but the organization has started to experience something of a turnaround within the last five to six years. For example, Roseland’s losses have been reduced.

A brand-new emergency room was added in 2009 that grew their space from 2,000 to 15,000 square feet. As the sixth busiest emergency room in Chicago at the time, the much-needed addition was welcomed. Emergency-room visits were up about 40 percent in the year following that improvement.

“We are very proud of our state-of-the-art emergency room, and it is the cornerstone of our strategic plan as we move forward,” Irons said.

Building on that success, Roseland is in the process of moving forward with a strategic plan that includes added service lines. These lines are much needed by the community and should help the hospital develop the necessary revenue to become more competitive with other area hospitals.

“We have outlined seven service lines that the hospital will begin to provide over the next five years,” Irons said. “To determine those service lines, we first evaluated the needs of the community. We also had to decide what type of contribution margin, cash-wise, these service lines would generate to the hospital, because in the future we’re going to have to be economically viable by depending upon our cash flow to sustain us.

“Healthcare is changing and one of the changes is that most, if not all of the self-pay that we currently get will gain some type of insurance,” he continued. “That means our subsidies are going to be significantly reduced as more of our revenues will derive directly from the patients that patronize us. We will have to be competitive with all the other hospitals by 2014, and we’re positioning ourselves to do that.”

In April of 2010, for instance, they opened an outpatient wound-treatment center that has hyperbaric chambers. A study of the market showed Roseland that the population in and around the hospital was 76 percent more likely to die of untreated diabetes-related illnesses. Wounds that are difficult to heal are common in diabetic populations, therefore having hyperbaric-chamber therapy in the wound-treatment center made sense for Roseland.

Roseland has a target of opening an adolescent-behavioral unit later this year. This is sorely needed on the South Side of Chicago.

Other new service lines will include “gastroenterology, a community diabetes education and prevention center, and a women’s health center of excellence – with state-of-the-art Labor and Delivery Suites – of which there’s a high demand,” Irons said. “The birth rate is still relatively high in our community, and our hospital is only able to capture about 20 percent of the births because we find mothers preferring to give birth at more modern facilities.

“We’ve engaged a hospital planner, and we’ve engaged a consultant who has done the service line analysis and evaluation,” he added. “They have provided us with the service-line evaluations and guided us in what service lines we should be providing.”

Building with More Growth in Mind

When building the new emergency room, Roseland constructed a foundation that would allow for the construction of two more floors when the time came. That additional 30,000 square feet of space will eventually house new intensive-care units, as well as improved and expanded operating suites.

“Those are not service lines, but are an integral part of what the hospital does,” Irons said.

Irons said the hospital completed its strategic plan earlier this year and settled on a core set of values. These values promise all patients, guests, and staff dignified, respectful, and compassionate treatment and promise the community a commitment to quality service, wise stewardship of resources, and diversity.

“We are building on our turnaround and beginning to propel our hospital into the future so it will be competitive by catapulting our services in the community to a newer and higher level,” Irons said. “We are really excited about all the positive things that are happening here at Roseland Community Hospital”

-by T.M. Simmons

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Larry Burns January 27, 2012 at 12:57 am

Hi I’m a concern resedent are you planining to expand the hospital or parking to the south from state to perry (111th place) in other word would you be obtaining properity behind the hospital? or if not shouldn’t this block be deemed a quite zone in respect for the sick


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