Pekin Hospital is discontinuing its cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation programs at its Wellness Center just weeks after it announced the closure of Premier OB/Gyn on April 27.

Hospital CEO Bob Haley said in a prepared statement that the hospital is facing financial issues that require changes.

“This decision was made because of ongoing economic challenges and significant changes to health care delivery systems and the government rehabilitation model,” said Haley. “Without a state budget, the hospital has not been paid more than $1 million in reimbursements.

“Insurance companies are reducing the amounts they pay the hospital as well. We are currently looking at new opportunities to utilize the facility space in a way that will best serve the community and remain sustainable for the future. Patients who are in need of cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation services are being referred to area providers. Our Human Resources Department is working with impacted employees to find other positions at Progressive Health Systems. At this time there are no plans for additional closings of practices or service lines within our organization. We acknowledge and understand the concerns that have been raised, and we thank those individuals who have taken the time to reach out to us. We remain deeply committed to the health and well-being of our community, and we are confident in our ability to overcome the economic challenges that currently exist in the state of Illinois.”

The hospital in March broke ground on a new $16.9 million physician center. The hospital borrowed money through the city of Pekin for the project. Haley could not be reached for comment concerning finances and the new building.

Premier OB/Gyn will officially close on April 30 despite patients calls to leave it open. The hospital offered Dr. Eric Reinertson a four-month extension of his contract, but Reinertson declined the offer saying he needed more job security. There was a no-compete clause in his contract that prevented him from opening a practice in a 50-mile radius for two years. After patients became upset, the hospital announced on March 26 that it would waive the no-compete clause. Reinertson said he had already “committed to a new path.”

“I don’t have any change in thought,” said Reinertson in late March. “I’m at the wrong end of my career to start new. I have pretty much committed to work elsewhere.”

Though patients are aware that Reinertson is moving on to a new career path, many will attend a protest at the sundial in the Sunken Gardens in Mineral Springs Park across from the hospital from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday to protest the hospital’s “disregard for patients,” said Tia Hall, protest organizer. Hall said that patients were only given six weeks notice. And while Dr. Douglas Harrington and Dr. Lesley Brinkman-Mosiman have agreed to take Premier’s pregnant patients who have not delivered by the end of April, Hall said Reinertson’s departure limits the number of OB/Gyn doctors to two.

Hall said there are patients who have fertility issues and other serious issues. She said the patients chose Reinertson for a reason; they “trusted him.”

“We are patients,” said Hall. “We are people.

“We are not just dollar signs. They took away our choice. This is 2016. We shouldn’t have to be fighting for a woman’s right to choice.”

Haley said previously that, “We feel confident that we have a solid plan for building a strong OB presence in our community, and we will continue to work hard every day to earn the trust of those we are so privileged to serve.”

In Haley’s statement released Friday, and a previous statement, he said, “At this time we have a letter of intent from a potential new OB/Gyn physician, and we are actively recruiting a second. We also notified Dr. Eric Reinertson that we are waiving the non-compete, non-solicitation covenants in his contract as related to re-establishing an independent OB/Gyn practice. This will allow him to open an independent clinic in the Pekin area after May 1, 2016, if he so chooses.”

Hall said the closure of Premier was not a last minute decision. She said that if they planned to hire a new graduate they should have brought them in earlier so Reinertson would able to train them and get to know patients.

Janie Hitch, Premier OB/Gyn midwife, said on the Facebook Save Premier OB/Gyn that “I am overwhelmed by the love and support you are showing us. I know there is a protest planned for April 2. I understand your outrage and sadness. However, I am requesting that this gathering take on a different tone. Please let’s rally in the spirit of celebration rather than anger. Please write poster messages of appreciation for the years of service we have given you. Show your gratitude for the healthy babies and family centered births we were privileged to be a part of. Help us make the ending of Premier OB a joy filled memory.”

Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin