MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island to close December 31

A hospital in suburban Chicago is set to close by the end of the year, impacting more than a thousand workers and thousands of patients.

MetroSouth Medical Center has been an anchor in south suburban Blue Island for more than a 100 years, but the CEO says over the last five years, it typically operates at only one-third of its total capacity and is on pace to lose $10 million this year.

On Tuesday, its leadership announced plans to close at the end of 2019.

“I couldn’t imagine Blue Island existing without that facility here. It’s been in our backbone and back yard for SO many years. It would be devastating,” said Blue Island Mayor Domingo Vargas.

Mayor Vargas estimates between 1,000 and 1,500 people will lose their jobs if MetroSouth closes, and that is something he is vowing to fight.

“Our main thing is to keep that hospital open, given its one of the only hospitals still remaining on the South Line, and that’s my main objective as the mayor, to keep that hospital open especially that ER room. That’s vital for our community and for the surrounding communities,” Vargas said.

In a statement, MetroSouth’s CEO blamed years of fewer and fewer patients coming to the facility for care: “Closing the hospital is an immensely difficult and emotional decision, but the data is clear that patient needs have changed here and across the country. Enormous half-empty hospitals are not what the future of health care looks like.”

He did go on to say the hospital is aggressively pursuing a way to stay open as an outpatient center.

“Keep that faith. It’s gone through this before. The main thing is to keep it open and we will do it. There needs to be an ER room, a hospital on the South Side. And we’ll do our best to do it and keep it open,” Vargas said.

“I’m going to do everything I can at my level, the state level to bring together the leaders to figure out what options we have to keep this health facility open,” said State Rep. Robert Rita.

FOX 32 spoke to a group of nurses right after they learned the difficult news and they said they are devastated to be losing their jobs, but are optimistic a buyer will come forward before the end of the year.