U of Chicago postpones ED diversion program

As we'd reported previously, the University of Chicago Medical Center recently set plans to begin diverting patients away from its emergency department who weren't acutely sick. The hospital intended to begin evaluating patients before care was provided, and send non-urgent cases to other facilities.

Critics of the plan accused management of scheming to divert lower-paying Medicaid patients and the uninsured to other hospitals, but executives said they were merely trying to free up resources for patients who truly needed their specialized services. Those critics included two national associations of ED doctors, and almost 200 residents and fellows in training at the medical center.

Despite executive protestations, the program created something of a furor in the community, especially when a Medicaid-insured mother went public with allegations that her son with a serious dog bite had been turned away and forced to get surgery elsewhere.

Now, the U of Chicago's president has gotten involved, announcing that the hospital would come up with a "better plan." In an internal memo, Robert Zimmer aid that it was critical to make sure people in the U of Chicago's service area were cared for appropriately. "We benefit from being part of these communities, and we have a corresponding obligation to contribute to their well-being," he said.

To learn more about the furor:
- read this piece from the Chicago Tribune

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