Roseland Hospital CEO: ‘Remdesivir is Here in Chicago, And We’re Not Getting Any’

Chicago’s Roseland Community Hospital has been on the front lines of the pandemic, treating many patients who have COVID-19 and testing close to 11,000 people for the virus over the past few months. 

The safety-net hospital, with a majority of patients on Medicaid, has seen 27 coronavirus-related deaths so far.

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But Roseland wasn’t included in Illinois’ recent distribution of remdesivir, a move that’s angered hospital officials. Remdesivir is the only medicine that’s been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on an emergency basis for treating COVID-19. 

Interactive: More from our series, COVID-19 Across Chicago.

“We got nothing. Once again, Roseland Hospital is getting shortchanged. Are people in Roseland not as sick as the people in other parts of the city? No. That’s BS. They’re just as sick and they’re dying. They’re just as dead,” said Tim Egan, the hospital’s president and CEO.

Only 14 Illinois hospitals received a limited supply of the drug from the state this week, enough to treat about 700 patients. Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says the state hopes to receive more from the federal government. 

For Egan, that moment can’t come soon enough. He says he’s been trying to work back channels to get a hold of remdesivir, including calling its manufacturer directly, with no success. 

“Once again we’re setting up a class system of access to care, and access to treatment. Remdesivir is here in Chicago, and we’re not getting any. And that’s a travesty,” Egan said. 

Roseland Community Hospital has emerged as an anchor of COVID-19 treatment on Chicago’s Far South Side, and hospital officials say it has tested over 6,000 first responders for the virus on top of thousands of neighborhood residents. 

“We’ve done this testing on our own with no support from any government entity, or any other bigger, larger hospital system. Little old Roseland Hospital has done this all on our own, with our own analyzers, with our own testing, in our own lab,” Egan said. 

But Egan says the pandemic has exacerbated ongoing financial challenges facing the small hospital. He’s asking Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his staff to step in with emergency funding. 

“We’ve been testing all these people, we don’t know where we’re going to get reimbursed on this testing. We never did it for a reimbursement, we did it because [of] the desperate need,” Egan said. “Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into the state of Illinois, and we’re not seeing any of it.” 

Community Reporting Series

“Chicago Tonight” is expanding its community reporting. We’re hitting the streets to speak with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. See where we’ve been and what we’ve learned by using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Points in red represent our series COVID-19 Across Chicago; blue marks our series “Chicago Tonight” in Your Neighborhood.

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