Hospitals have started restricting visitors as flu picks up in the area. You might want to call ahead before making the trip to any hospital to visit.
There's been a big jump in reported flu cases this month. In Danville, at Presence United Samaritans Medical Center, more than 100 patients have been treated since February. That's either through coming to the emergency room or being admitted to the hospital.
Carle Foundation Hospital has had 64 emergency room visits in the last week due to influenza-like illness, and the hospital admitted three people.
The Illinois Department of Public Health issued an alert Thursday about flu being on the rise in several counties, and advised hospitals to begin visitor restrictions.
Presence Health, the medical system that operates 11 Illinois hospitals, including Presence St. Mary's Hospital in Kankakee, is announcing its cutting up to 700 jobs. A press release states 250 jobs will be cut this year and 450 positions won't be filled thru attrition.
Presence does not say which hospitals or long-term care and senior living facilities will be specifically impacted. But the job loss would be concentrated among corporate staff, rather than what was described as front-line health care workers, such as doctors and nurses.
Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka is not likely to be affected. IMH is an 'independent' partner of Presence Health.
The Presence network CEO, Michael Englehart, blamed poor billing collection as a key component as the system lost $186 million in 2015. It's about 15 times what it lost the previous year. In 2014, the organization lost $12.7 million.
The loss of 700 jobs is 3.5 percent of Presence's 20,000-member workforce.
The Presence news release states "We recognize that the changes we will have to make will not be easy for any of us at Presence Health." Englehart further states, "Consistent with our mission and values, we are committed to treating all associates in a compassionate manner and will provide transition assistance to those who are impacted."
Locally, Presence has 850 Kankakee County employees. The layoffs were announced Wednesday during a call with Presence bondholders.
Ford County Health Department faces possible temporary closure
Payroll issues could force closure of the Ford County Health Department in Paxton. The lack of available cash flow could lead to the facility closing by the end of May.
Public Health Administrator Lana Sample informed her Ford County Board this week that a lack of revenue from the state has the agency in a difficult financial position. Coming in to March, Sample said, the department had but $76,191 in cash. That won't be enough to keep the agency operating.
There's been no hiring to fill vacancies and there's been efforts to save costs, but unless state payments are on their way, services could be stopped.
Sample said the health department isn't due to get any property tax revenues until July. Unless more revenue is coming in, closing the office may be the only option.
The health board has talked about employee furloughs and borrowing from a bank or the county itself.
Annual awards were presented (Thursday) by the Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce.
Lifetime Achievement Award...
Ron and Melanie Warfield of Gibson City were named recipients of the 9th Lifetime Achievement Award. Recipients are recognized for community involvement over several years. The Warfields, it was pointed out, serve as volunteers at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley schools and Gibson Area Hospital. They're also active in the chamber and local Rotary Club.
Ron Warfield is also a former president of the Illinois Farm Bureau.
Citizen of the Year Award...
"Citizen of the Year" recognizes the volunteers efforts of Miranda Leonard, activity and social services director at the Gibson Area Hospital Annex. Her nomination pointed out Leonard's involvement as a volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program and as a Sunday School teacher. She's also served the GCMS school board, the PTA, the Gibson Area Hospital Auxiliary and as a volunteer with the Little league Board and Lions Club.
More than 200 people attended the annual event at the Kruse Center in Gibson City.
Junior Citizen of the Year...
Six GCMS High School seniors were nominated for the Junior award. The honor went to James Fairfield. Fairfield's honor recognized his leadership at home and school. He's a student athlete with aspirations for college. His plan is to attend Illinois State University and then pursue law school.
Among others getting certificates for their nomination were Emily Allen, Key-Shawn Girkin, Abby Bowen, Zach Johnson and Andrea Worthington.
Nomination forms are available for the annual Watseka Area Chamber of Commerce awards night.
The Professional and Staff Achievement Awards will be presented in conjunction with the Times-Republic's Citizen-of-the-Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards. Deadline for nominations is April 12th.
The annual banquet is May 4th at Celebrations. It begins at 5:30 pm. Those interested in a nomination can contact the Chamber of Commerce office at 815-432-2416 or find the nomination form online at www.watsekachamber.org