Galesburg mayor 'very concerned' about closure of Cottage Hospital, a former top 10 employer

Jay Redfern
Galesburg Register-Mail
Galesburg Cottage Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois.

GALESBURG — City of Galesburg Mayor Peter Schwartzman said he's "very concerned" about the recent news about Galesburg Cottage Hospital.

Cottage Hospital announced Saturday it was temporarily suspending all services at the hospital starting immediately. On Friday, Cottage Hospital employees received a letter from CEO Sanjay Sharma letting them know their jobs were being eliminated.

"I am very concerned about the recent events surrounding Cottage Hospital, its services, its employees and its clients," Schwartzman said Monday. "As it is a major employer in our city which provides many essential services, we, the city, are tracking developments closely and looking for opportunities to ensure that members of our city and larger community can get the services they need.

"Longer term, we are prioritizing the importance of employment of many who may have lost jobs. This is a very unique situation and one that is still unfolding. I urge residents to remain alert to further developments as well as communicate challenges they may have to their elected leaders during this transitional stage."

The city issued a news release Tuesday morning regarding the situation at Cottage, saying "Cottage Hospital has served the community for over 100 years and played an important role, both as a healthcare provider and major employer.

"The Galesburg community is well served by multiple healthcare providers, ambulance service, and EMS to help keep citizens safe and meet their healthcare needs. OSF has a strong local and regional presence with OSF St. Mary Hospital located in Galesburg. As a result, the area has and will continue to have a strong healthcare support system."

The Register-Mail presented a similar list of questions to Ken Springer, president of Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development. Like Schwartzman, Springer was not ready to weigh in on the economic impact of Cottage's closure. 

“We are saddened to learn of the recent events concerning Cottage Hospital," Springer said. "Cottage is a privately-owned company and their issues are not reflective of the broader Galesburg community."

Springer noted dislocated workers should contact Western Illinois Works at (309) 344-1575 or to get information about employment services.

Historically, Cottage was in the top 10 private employers in Knox County, according to Springer.  

According to the KCAP website, the top private employers in Knox County are:

  1. BNSF - 1,071
  2. OSF - 593
  3. District 205 - 626
  4. Blick Art Materials - 558
  5. Knox College - 500
  6. Cottage Hospital 346

The Register-Mail believes the number of employees listed at Cottage represent the total employed when the hospital changed hands in June 2020. The newspaper is awaiting a reply from Cottage administration as to how many were employed when the hospital locked its doors on Saturday. 

Springer said the list of top employers is not a scientific rank order, but meant as a rough list of major employers for outside companies that are unfamiliar with the local market. 

While noting the importance of healthcare to the community, Springer said he did not believe the issues at Cottage would hinder KCAP's ability to attract new businesses or people to locate to Galesburg.

"Healthcare accessibility is definitely important to the quality of life in any community," he said. "We do mention things like healthcare, housing, education and other facets of the community when we talk with companies. 

"However, I don’t think that the current issues with Cottage will have a significant impact one way or another on our work of helping companies launch, locate or grow here in the community."