Major Chicago Health System Shutters SNF, Pushes Home Health

It’s no secret that the number of skilled nursing beds is declining across the nation. A situation currently playing out in Chicago illustrates some of the reasons for this trend, including a push for more care to be delivered in people’s homes.

Northwestern Medicine, a major Windy City integrated health care system, is shutting down a skilled nursing facility (SNF) at the same time that it is joining a new initiative to expand home-based primary care. Crain’s Chicago Business reported the story Thursday, with the headline: “Out with nursing homes, in with home health care.”

Consumer preferences for home care or private-pay senior housing—such as assisted living—have eroded occupancy at traditional nursing homes like the Northwestern-owned Westmoreland Nursing Center, the article stated. Occupancy at the 84-bed Westmoreland decreased nearly 50% since 2012, reaching an annual rate of 61% as of 2012, according to documents Northwestern filed with the state of Illinois in July, when it applied to shutter the facility.

Westmoreland is affiliated with Northwestern-owned Lake Forest Hospital in the affluent northern Chicago suburb of Lake Forest. A $378 million health care center is in the works to replace the current hospital, and this new construction will not include a long-term care facility; this is due to the “new health care model” in the United States, Northwestern spokesman Chris King told Crain’s.

Northwestern is among several academic medical centers that sees home-based services as playing a larger role in U.S. health care. It is one of eight “Centers of Excellence” launching a new home health training program. The initiative aims to increase the number of clinicians focused on home-based primary care, with a target of growing this workforce by 5,000 clinicians within five years.

Written by Tim Mullaney

Tim Mullaney on Email
Tim Mullaney
If he’s not in the newsroom, Tim likes to be on the tennis court or traveling to a new destination. Recent highlights include Sri Lanka and Iceland.

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