Cottage CEO plans to appeal Medicare decision, reopen hospital; IDPH assessing next steps

Tom Martin
Galesburg Register-Mail
Galesburg Cottage Hospital closed Saturday, with  locked doors having sheets of paper with Cottage letterhead that say "Galesburg Cottage Hospital is temporarily closed."

GALESBURG — The Cottage Hospital CEO says he will appeal the decision Dec. 27 that cut off Medicare  payments so the hospital can be reopened. 

Cottage Hospital locked its doors Saturday night and put up signs saying it is temporarily closed. Letters were sent Friday to employees telling them their jobs were terminated. 

CEO Sanjay Sharma responded to Register-Mail questions via email on Tuesday.

"Overturning of CMS decision will allow us to open the hospital," Sharma said.

More:Beleaguered Galesburg Cottage Hospital closes; letter Friday informed staff they're fired

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services informed Cottage Hospital Dec. 27, 2021, that it failed to meet health and safety standards to be certified as a Medicare and Medicaid provider. The deadline for Medicare and Medicaid coverage was then extended to Jan. 14, with current patients being covered for 30 days beyond that. 

Without Medicare and Medicaid, the hospital would lose most of its revenue. Medicare and Medicaid payments accounted for 72% of Cottage Hospital’s net revenue in 2020, according to the latest Health Facilities and Services Review Board data profile.

Cottage hospital has 60 days from Dec. 29 to file an appeal with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and request a hearing. That would make the deadline Feb. 27. 

"The appeal time is two months," Sharma said. "We are collecting all the evidences to appeal the decision."

Galesburg Cottage Hospital is closed, with only a few lights on Saturday night. The locked doors have sheets of paper with Cottage letterhead that say "Galesburg Cottage Hospital is temporarily closed."

Even if the appeal is successful, It's not clear how the hospital would be staffed after all personnel have been fired.

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

Sharma did not respond to questions about how many jobs were cut at the hospital and clinic. He also didn't say if anyone was still working at the hospital.

Sharma's hope for reopening the hospital also hinges on retaining its license. 

On Monday the Illinois Department of Public Health contacted Sharma, who informed them that Cottage Hospital temporarily suspended operations at 9 p.m. Saturday."

"IDPH is assessing its next steps," according to Melaney Arnold, public Information officer for the IDPH.  

The IDPH has the power to revoke the hospital's license.

Another agency, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, is in charge of approving hospital openings, closings and changes in ownership. Sharma could apply to the review board for a temporary suspension of services, which could last up to one year. 

But Mike Constantino of the Review Board said Tuesday the hospital would need to retain its license in order to take that step.

"If they lose their license, they are no longer considered a hospital," Constantino said. "It all depends on what happens with the license. The department has to determine what they will do with their license."

More:Cottage clinic ends contract with doctors; filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy Jan. 3

So Cottage Hospital would have to keep its license, get a temporary suspension and either win its appeal for Medicare or reapply for program services and hire back doctors and staff.

If a temporary suspension is approved, Cottage would have to file monthly reports to the review board updating its plans to resume operations.

In the meantime, the Hospital Licensing Act requires Cottage to notify the Illinois Department of Public about where its patient records are being stored or transferred.