Another Southern Illinois hospital is in jeopardy of closing. The Franklin Hospital Board approved a resolution this week to close Franklin Hospital in Benton. The decision doesn't mean it's a done deal though.
The board made the decision so it could still have control over the hospital's license. If it didn't do anything, the Illinois Department of Public Health would take over.
Still, talk of shutting the hospital down don't sit well with Benton residents. Benton resident Tammy Coons says, "There's not a whole lot us common folk can do about it, unfortunately. I think the powers higher up need to think of the people first."
The same people who, for over 50 years, have turned to Franklin Hospital for care, an option that may soon run out. The hospital is two million dollars in debt, and losing two-hundred thousand dollars a month. It also has no owner.
Franklin was managed by Southern Illinois Healthcare, but that lease-management agreement is up, which could mean shutting the doors of the county's only hospital for good.
Benton resident Dustin Cocke says, "I think it's wrong, it should stay open, there's no reason for it. At least now if anyone around here gets hurt, at least we can call another hospital or something, there's nothing else around." "We have no facilities in the area," resident Joyce Chrostoski says. "My mom's 86 and we have to go to Mt. Vernon, Carbondale, St. Louis, we need something here." Coons adds, "I think it's a bad decision. I think Southern Illinois people in this area deserve to have a well staffed, well run, reputable hospital close at hand, where they don't have to travel 30 to 40 miles."
The Franklin Hospital Board has until May 21st to find another company to take over and manage the hospital. If that doesn't happen, then May 21st may be the last day Franklin Hospital's open, leaving 250 people looking for jobs.
"I know some people who work at Franklin Hospital and people are in a flurry looking for jobs," Coon says. Cocke adds, "There's not a whole lot of jobs around here to begin with, that's a lot of money, that will put people out of house and home."