UPDATE: City of Rockford approves $100,000 contribution to Rosecrance Triage Center

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UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- It's the first time city money will be used to fund a non profit organization. And one aldermen fears we could be starting a financially dangerous trend.

Although a tough decision tonight council members agree to support Rosecrance by contributing $100,000 dollars so the center can continue to help those in the community who struggle with mental illness.

"This is the first time that I've asked for this type of funding from the city council and I think this is the first for them to fund this level of programming but it reflects changing attitudes and enlightened attitudes about those that suffer from mental illness," CEO of Rosecrance Healthcare Network Philip Eaton said.

Late last month the state announced it would be giving $150,000 to Rosecrance's Triage program.

The cities funding now joins contributions from Rockford's three hospitals along with many other private donations, putting the triage program in a comfortable place to continue operating for the remainder of the year.
The only alderman against the vote fears what this could mean for the future.

"By voting yes on it today I'm concerned that the other 49 entities coming into Rockford and now saying we are also behind in state funding, we also got cut in the state, we would like you to help us out as well." 4th Ward Alderman Kevin Frost said.

Eaton says the cities funding will allow them to meet 95 percent of the demand the program sees.

For the last three months the center has only been able to have their doors open 10 to 12 hours a day.

Eaton says now the expanded funding will allow Rosecrance to remain open 16 to 18 hours, seven days a week.

Updated: October 3, 2016

UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- The City of Rockford has approved giving $100,000 to help fund Rosecrance's Triage Center.

The center was in danger of closing due to a lack of funds from the state.

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Updated: September 26, 2016

UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Rosecrance is seeing more money coming their way, this time from the state.

The State announced that it would be giving $150,000 to Rosecrance’s triage program to help close the gap of what Rosecrance needed to remain open the rest of the year.

This funding joins contributions from Rockford’s three hospitals plus many other private donations, putting the Triage Program in a place where it will be able to continue operating for the remainder of the year. We’re told the state offered the money after seeing the support and drive of the local community and hospitals reaching out for something they believed in.

"Well I think it's exciting because it really shows what happens when the community sees that there’s a problem. To see the hospitals working together and all of the legislatures working together it took all of that to make that work," says Illinois State Senator Dave Syverson (R).

Syverson says that for the long term fix, they are looking at how to work that with the new state budget and waiting on the federal government to approve a waiver that would allow things like the Triage Program to charge visits to Medicaid.

Syverson says while there will still be a $50-$100,000 gap from the $750,000 requested by Rosecrance, that they will be able to work with the funding they have been given.

Rosecrance received $500,000 from the state in August for services provided during the previous fiscal year. This will be the first payment from the state for this fiscal year.

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Updated: September 21, 2016

UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – All three Rockford hospitals are adding to the much needed funds for the Rosecrance Triage Program.

The Rosecrance Triage Center was in danger of shutting down since the state went back on its previous deal to fund it due to the state budget impasse. Since then, Rosecrance has been asking for $750,000, the bare minimum to keep the program operational.

On Wednesday, SwedishAmerican announced it would give a $70,000 donation and OSF Saint Anthony says it will give $20,000. Mercyhealth is also pledging $50,000.

SwedishAmerican says they know that what they are giving is only a bandage for a much larger concern.

“I simply hope that our state legislatures can come together and understand these are broad-based social issues and problems with citizens of our community. These are citizens of our community that have mental and behavioral issues. These are citizens of ours and they need appropriate treatment and the private community cannot sustain this long term,” says SwedishAmerican President and CEO Dr. Bill Gorski.

Dr. Gorksi says he’s happy to see Rockford donating to a much needed program in the community.

A total amount of $140,000 is being donated from the three local hospitals. This amount along with other private donations gets Rosecrance to more than half of what’s needed to keep the program operational until June.

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Updated: September 21, 2016

UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Another Rockford hospital has come forward to help with Rosecrance's Triage Center.

SwedishAmerican has announced it is donating $70,000 to Rosecrance to help maintain its Triage Program that is in danger of closing due to a lack of funds from the state. On August 23, Rosecrance's Board of Directors voted to shut down the Triage Program in 30 days if alternative funding could not be secured. Rosecrance has asked the state for $750,000 which is the bare minimum to keep the program operating.

At the end of August, Mercyhealth announced that it was willing to step in and help offering to contribute $50,000 to Rosecrance if OSF and Swedes contributed the same. The funding from Mercyhealth was also contingent on whether the City of Rockford and Winnebago County each donated $100,000.

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Updated: August 31, 2016

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- A Rockford hospital is the first to come to the table to assist with the Rosecrance Triage Center crisis after fears come that the center could soon close its doors from a lack of funds.

Just one week after Rosecrance says they are 30 days from shutting down their triage center because of a lack of funds, the organization is reaching out to local resources for financial assistance.

Mercyhealth is the first to say they are willing to step in and help, offering to contribute $50,000 to Rosecrance if OSF and UW SwedishAmerican contribute the same. Mercyhealth says the funding would only come if the City of Rockford and Winnebago County donate $100,000 each according to the company's CEO and president Javon Bea.

Winnebago County Chairman Scott Christiansen says they are willing to do their part and sees it as a good investment because those who need help may otherwise be in jail or local hospitals.

"There's a pretty good return on investment for this. It fits a niche and I think the thought was if there's local participation we are willing to contribute if the other entities are," says Christiansen.

Christiansen says the funding to assist Rosecrance would have to go through board approval. With two organizations on board, only time will tell if the others follow suit.

Following Mercyhealth's press release regarding their pledge, the City of Rockford released a statement saying they will forward the request for funding to City Council for consideration. A statement by City Administrator Jim Ryan goes on to say:

“At the same time, however, we will be requesting a meeting comprised of State of Illinois officials, our State legislative delegation, Rosecrance, our major hospital systems, and our township, county and local government partners to meet to discuss the short-term crisis issues relating to providing mental healthcare delivery in our community, as well as to discuss long-term strategies going forward. Because clearly, the funding for our mental health continuum of care system is broken, and we need to collectively fix it. It is imperative that we get all the players in a room to discuss strategies to address and meet the healthcare needs of the chronically mentally ill individuals in our community so that it is sustainable moving forward."

23 News also reached out to the two other area hospitals, however we did not hear back from them prior to the publishing of this report.
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Updated: August 31, 2016

UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Just one week after Rosecrance says they are 30 days from shutting down their triage center without $750,000 worth of funds, Mercyhealth is stepping in to try to help.

They say they’re willing to contribute $50,000 if OSF and UW SwedishAmerican contribute the same. Mercyhealth is also calling on the City of Rockford and Winnebago County to donate $100,000 each according to the company’s CEO and president Javon Bea.

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Updated: August 24, 2016

UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Rosecrance President and CEO Philip Eaton feels he was left high and dry by Illinois's government.

"When the state of Illinois closed the Singer Mental Health Psychiatric Hospital in 2012, they made a commitment, they made a promise to the Rockford community, to this region of service that they would leave crisis funding in the community," says Eaton.

The Triage Center helps those with psychiatric issues avoid a hospital stay and receive specialized care. If the center closes its doors, Eaton says the future looks dark for their patients.

"The criminal justice system, the whole cycle of homelessness, hospitalization, incarceration," says Eaton. "This is a well known fact of untreated mental illness."

Eaton says the state of Illinois owes Rosecrance about $8 million for past fiscal years. All he's asking for right now is $750,000. While he's frustrated about the lack of funds, local lawmakers disagree about who's to blame.

"It's really up to the Speaker," says Republican Senator Dave Syverson. "The problem has been the Speaker doesn't want to do a full year budget which could have resolved this problem."

'If someone claims that the Center is being closed because of a lack of a budget or lack of a permanent budget, that's not the case," says Democratic Senator Steve Stadelman. "The money is there. It was appropriated by the General Assembly. The Rauner administration needs to use the money that was given for the Triage Center.

Eaton says the company's goal is to not layoff any employees at the Triage Center. If it closes in 30 days, they'll move workers to another facility.

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Updated: August 23, 2016

UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- The Rosecrance Health Network Board of Directors has voted to terminate the triage program in 30 days if alternative funding cannot be secured.

Rosecrance leaders say efforts will be made during that time to secure emergency funding for the program through local sources.

We're told Illinois' budget problems are likely to blame and that the state didn’t follow through on a $1.5 million agreement made when former Governor Pat Quinn was in office.

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Posted: August 23, 2016

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – On the heels of a study that shows mental health issues at an emergency level in our area, one care provider may be closing a much needed program.

Rosecrance’s triage program is at risk of shutting down and we’re told Illinois’ budget is likely to blame. Medical professionals say the state didn’t follow through on a $1.5 million agreement made when former Governor Pat Quinn was in office.

Rosecrance board members funded the program, but could not maintain the 24 hour service. In November, they cut their program hours by more than half. In March, the state said they would cut a check to Rosecrance for $500,000 for fiscal year 2016’s triage costs and just last Friday told Rosecrance payment was expected to be made this week. The decision tonight follows a survey completed by the Winnebago County Mental Health Advisory Committee which shows that 50% of Winnebago County Residents can expect to meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition in their lifetime and 20% of residents can expect the same this year.

According to Rosecrance, the stopgap budget for this year once again has that $1.5 million deal zeroed out. Rosecrance has asked the state for $750,000 which is the bare minimum to keep the program operating.

Without state funding, Rosecrance doesn’t know that they will be able to fund the triage program which had picked up services for many who used Singer after it closed.

The Rosecrance Board will discuss shutting down the program tonight at their regular board meeting.

We will continue to update you as we get more information on this developing story.