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Forum will allow public to voice concerns following Cottage Hospital closure

Galesburg leaders are hosting a community meeting from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Lake Story Pavilion in Galesburg.

GALESBURG, Ill. — Galesburg Mayor Peter Schwartzman will host a community forum Thursday night, Jan. 27 to hear from the public on the closing of Galesburg Cottage Hospital.

Organizer and former Cottage employee Mary Ann Pedigo pushed for the public forum as a way to provide a space for her colleagues and patients to voice their concerns and seek answers.

Mayor Schwartzman said he hopes to bring answers to the many doctors and nurses left jobless and patients left without medical care after the abrupt closure of the hospital.

"It's devastating," Schwartzman said. "We just want to have an event so that people know that the leaders of this community are paying attention to what's going on."

Although the details of the closing may look alarming, the mayor said he doesn't feel that the closing has made a significant impact on the city.

"I think it's really important to note that we're not in a crisis situation," Schwartzman said.

The meeting will focus on discussing financial challenges, obtaining health records and providing mental health resources.

"It affects the families, and the families are the ones that feel the pain first. And there is immediate pain being felt right now. No doubt," Schwartzman said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cut its funding to the hospital after determining it "posed an immediate risk of serious injury, impairment or death" to patients and staff. This was under the ownership of Sanjay and Priyam Sharma, who are currently appealing this decision. 

"I think, as a business and given the nature of their work, it's very reasonable that they would appeal such a decision," the mayor said. "I think all health care providers right now are scrambling a bit."

Looking forward, the mayor said his team is looking into forming a health commission team and wants to get quarterly updates from federal and state agencies to better regulate hospital practices.

The community meeting will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Lake Story Pavilion in Galesburg.

Watch more coverage on the hospital's closure on News 8's YouTube channel