KishHealth, Northwestern merge pending board meet

By Ashley Morse

A merger between Northwestern Memorial Healthcare and KishHealth System awaits final approval in November.

KishHealth System, a health organization that serves the greater DeKalb area, as well as Sycamore, Plano, Sandwich and Rochelle, will be purchased and merged with Chicago-based group Northwestern Memorial Healthcare pending a Nov. 17 meeting with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board. A public weigh-in for the merger where the two applicants stated why they believed the merger would be a good idea for the community was held Thursday.

The meeting also provided an opportunity for community members to express any concerns.

The primary reason for the merger is “[to be become] apart of a larger teaching academic facility that has a reputation with the history of Northwestern and access to a clinical resources,” said Kevin Poorten, President and CEO of KishHealth System.

If the merger is finalized, KishHealth System will receive resources from Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. KishHealth’s name will be changed to include Northwestern, Poorten said; however he said he is unsure of how it will be added.

KishHealth hoped to find resources to open a behavioral hospital after the loss of a local behavioral hospital caused patients to be sent elsewhere, said Barry Schrader, member of DeKalb County Citizens for Better Mental Health Care. The DeKalb behavioral hospital was shut down in 2009 due to its small size and underuse, Schrader said.

Northwestern representatives said all mental health care patients will now be transferred to Central DuPage Hospital, 25 N. Winfield Road in Winfield, Schrader said, as the facility has recently revamped its behavioral hospital. Schrader said he hoped the merger would allow for a reopening of the Dekalb behavioral hospital because sending patients to other locations farther away from DeKalb is hard on patients’ families.

Schrader said he does not believe the revisions for the inclusion of a behavioral hospital on KishHealth’s merger application will be done in time for the official meeting with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board on Nov. 17.

KishHealth and Northwestern both applied for the merger on Aug. 5, and the board approved the paperwork on Aug. 17, according to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board website.