Iroquois Memorial Hospital

The main entrance to Iroquois Memorial Hospital.

WATSEKA — Iroquois Memorial Hospital will not become part of Riverside Healthcare network after all.

In a three-paragraph statement prepared by the two organizations and released Wednesday, the merger, which had been in the exploratory or “due diligence process” since October 2018, has been called off.

The 84-bed Iroquois Memorial Hospital has a staff of 450 and has been part of Watseka since 1916.

Riverside Medical Center, created in 1964, is licensed for 312 beds. Riverside is Kankakee County’s largest employer with a workforce of more than 3,000.

Riverside president and CEO Phil Kambic said the Kankakee-based health organization will continue its presence in Iroquois County.

“With our campus in Watseka and facility in Gilman, we are committed to meet the health care needs of the region,” Kambic stated in the news release. “We will continue to work with officials at IMH to ensure we are serving the community in the most efficient way.”

IMH Board Chairman Roger Dittrich said Iroquois Memorial has served the health care needs of Watseka and Iroquois County for more than 100 years and will continue to do so.

“We will always put the needs of the community first and honor our commitment to the patients we serve,” he stated.

According to the most available tax documents, Riverside had revenues over expenses of $23.7 million for the 2016 tax year. By contrast, IMH lost $1.4 million, according to its 2015 tax report.

This marks the second time IMH has tried to join a Kankakee hospital. In 2013, IMH and Presence St. Mary’s Hospital explored a potential merger, but that effort was stopped as well.

In December 2018, Riverside did purchase IMH’s ambulance service. RMC took over operations of that service on Jan. 1.

At the time of the ambulance service announcement, Riverside officials cautioned the public that the acquisition was not an indication the merger was about to take place.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at