Updated 1/12/11 10:58 p.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM) – Provident Hospital of Cook County plans to drastically reduce its emergency services starting Saturday when it will no longer accept ambulance runs.
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The move will strain emergency departments on Chicago’s South Side.
CBS 2′s Pam Jones was at Provident Hospital Wednesday night and spoke with diabetic Derrick Evans as he entered the emergency room, “That’s got to be crazy. I mean gunshot victims, as hard as this neighborhood is, and our community needs ambulance services.”
The hospital tells CBS 2 that out of the 40,000 emergency room patients, seen yearly, 3,800 are transported by ambulance. By cutting ambulances, the hospital says it can save $20 to $25 million each year and make room for more out-patient care.
University of Chicago Medical Center officials say they expect eight to 10 more ambulances at their hospital as a result and increased wait times for some urgent patients. Some patients may have to be transported all the way to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville, Stroger Hospital on the West Side, or Christ Hospital in suburban Oak Lawn.
Provident has informed the Illinois Department of Public Health of its intent to drop to the lowest level of emergency services. The Chicago Fire Department also has been informed.
The hospital’s ER staff will continue to see walk-in patients.
Cook County Health and Hospitals System spokesman Lucio Guerrero says the change is part of a strategic plan to reduce inpatient services at Provident to make room for more outpatient care.