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Defying the odds: Saint Anthony Hospital remains independent and financially stable

Bret Schroeder, healthcare expert at PA Consulting, discusses Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago.

Saint Anthony, an independent community hospital, is located on Chicago’s Southwest Side, just down the street from academic trauma provider Mount Sinai Hospital. With just 151 beds, its presence is small in comparison to Mount Sinai's 319 beds but it's managed to stay financially stable and—perhaps most surprisingly—independent.

Saint Anthony made a splash nine years ago when it did something unexpected: The board decided it would break away from national provider Ascension and instead of finding a new parent, go at it alone. While consolidation has become the norm, Saint Anthony has no plans of merging.

Healthcare experts say Saint Anthony has been able to stay independent because it understands its role as a community hospital and embraces it from a strategic standpoint through engagement and partnerships with local institutions.

Bret says: “They know who they are and they are not trying to be somebody else. They are focusing on the fundamentals and are leveraging the community through mission-based outreach.”

He adds that unlike other independent hospitals, Saint Anthony doesn't have the pressure to be anything but a community hospital. Independent hospitals in rural areas, which have struggled financially over the past decade, usually have to provide comprehensive clinical services because they're often the only provider in the community for many miles.

Saint Anthony doesn't have to invest in more expensive service lines like a trauma center because patients can find those services down the street at Mount Sinai or a few miles away at other academic institutions in the city. Another big part of Saint Anthony's strategy is engaging with the community. Saint Anthony has had a community wellness program for about 20 years.

Bret says that it has served Saint Anthony well to get to know its community. The hospital makes smart investments it knows its patients need. For instance, it was the first Illinois hospital to put in place the baby box program—offering expectant mothers specially equipped boxes to serve as an infant's first bed—along with an education component. The internationally recognized program is a way to prevent sudden infant death syndrome.

He adds: “They are leveraging this in a new way by combining it with education. That is an interesting example of knowing who their demographic is and leveraging innovation around that.”

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