A national mental health care provider has signed a letter of intent to purchase the Maryville Behavioral Health Hospital in Des Plaines -- news that comes just before Maryville officials had planned to close the facility for good.
Maryville Academy, which operates the 125-bed acute mental illness hospital at 555 W. Wilson Ave., is working "cooperatively and expeditiously" with the prospective buyer to transfer ownership, Sister Catherine M. Ryan, Maryville's executive director, wrote in an email to employees this week.
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The move is subject to approval by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, which was scheduled this week to consider Maryville's request to close the facility. That request is being deferred, and the nine-member board is expected to take up the transfer of ownership request at its July 14 meeting in Bolingbrook.
Terms of the proposed sale were not disclosed.
Maryville officials said the prospective buyer plans to care for mentally ill children and adolescents at the hospital, as well as adults -- a population not currently served at the facility.
"The prospective buyer has substantial nationwide experience in operating behavioral health hospitals along with a strong track record of working with local communities to provide the highest quality of care," officials said in a news release.
Maryville spokesman John Gorman said there are 10 patients at the hospital, many of whom are wards of the state. State officials are tasked with ultimately determining where those patients are placed, but it's possible they could remain at the Des Plaines facility.
"The children will stay as long as they need to, and hopefully if a new owner comes in, that would be a seamless transition," Gorman said.
In March, Maryville officials announced plans to close the 93,000-square-foot facility, formerly known as the Scott Nolan Center, due to heavy financial losses. Officials said the hospital lost money 14 out of the 15 years Maryville owned it. It was $4 million in the red last year, and is on track to lose more than $6 million this year.
The closing announcement came in the midst of negotiations with a labor union representing nursing employees, and just days after a five-day strike by nurses protesting what they said were unsafe staffing levels and unfair labor practices.
As talks of a possible sale progress, Maryville has begun its first round of layoffs "because we've been losing money with fewer patients," Gorman said.
On Wednesday, 55 hospital employees were laid off, including mental health counselors, nurses and administrative staff. That leaves 77 workers at the facility, Gorman said.
The prospective buyer "has indicated that it will attempt to retain/rehire as many of Maryville's hospital employees as possible in order to expedite a smooth transition of operations," Ryan wrote in her email to employees.
Some employees may be able to find jobs at Maryville's other facilities, Gorman added.