King speaks on hospital consolidation

PARKERSBURG – The consolidation of the Memorial and St. Joseph’s campuses of Camden Clark Medical Center will create opportunities for the community in developing medical care, the medical center’s president told the Parkersburg Rotary Club Monday.

Camden Clark Medical Center President and CEO Mike King talked about the plans for consolidating the services of the two campuses to Memorial Campus over the next few years.

With changes resulting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the changing nature of in-patient care at a hospital, King said it was not in the best interest of the community to keep both the St. Joseph’s Campus and the Memorial Campus operating as two entities.

West Virginia United Health System with Camden Clark Memorial Hospital purchased St. Joseph’s Hospital from Signature Hospital Corp. for $87 million in March 2011 and merged it with Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital to form Camden Clark Medical Center.

”We spent the better part of 2011-12 consolidating operations that made a lot of sense,” King said. ”We worked to make sure we did not duplicate services and that we eliminated waste.”

They have combined the hospitalist groups, obstetrics and pediatrics as well as reduced management positions, King said.

In the initial consolidations, he said there has been a savings of more than $10 million to the community.

”We think there could be as much as another $10 million in savings in just physical consolidation of the two hospitals,” King said.

In combining operations, the potential exists to bring new programs to the area, King said.

The St. Joseph’s facility has more than 900,000 square feet while the Memorial facility has 700,000 square feet.

In the 1970s, St. Joseph’s Hospital had around 400 patients on any given day, King said. Today that average daily census is around 40, he said.

Memorial had around 450 patients a day in the 1970s and now its average daily census is 220.

”If you combine the two, it is just over 250 patients a day now,” King said. ”The two hospitals were built to handle around 850 in-patients a day. Now they have around 600 fewer patients a day from 40 years ago.”

King attributes those numbers to new technologies and new procedures that have cut down the amount of time patients have to stay in the hospital.

A hospital that was built recently near Morgantown has around 800,000 square feet and is doing work comparable to that being done at Camden Clark Medical Center, King said.

The consolidation will be divided into phases over the next few years.

The first phase will be to move all of the cardiac services from St. Joseph’s to Memorial Campus, including open heart, King said.

Once St. Joseph’s closes, people have been afraid those services would go away, King said.

”That is just not true,” he said. ”They are being transferred down to Memorial Campus.”

To make that happen, they are moving the transitional care unit back to St. Joseph’s for the time being. HealthSouth will return to its main campus at Western Hills and clear up the fourth floor at Memorial.

”With that space vacated, we now have enough space to move all of the cardiac services,” King said. ”We will have to build a new cardiovascular operating room by using an existing OR.”

Space will be available to build a cardiac testing area, which will include cath labs, which will be close to the new operating room, King said. Officials will take part of the Advanced Care Unit and make it a Cardiovascular ICU.

”Over the next 18-24 months, all of that will get done,” King said.

The next phase will be to consolidate the two emergency departments.

”We know that we can’t shove 30,000 ER visits a year into the existing space so we are going to have to build it,” King said.

Officials will be looking at the space and figuring out what they can do, he said.

The final phase will involve moving whatever services remain at St. Joseph’s to Memorial.

Area development officials are trying to do something with the St. Joseph’s property. Parts of the facility will have to be torn down, but other parts will remain and can be developed into something else, King said.

King mentioned health care related developments can be added to work already being done in Parkersburg’s “Medical Mile.”

King acknowledges the loyalty both facilities have had over the years.

”This is a dramatic change for those who have loved Camden Clark and those who have loved St. Joseph’s,” he said. ”What folks are missing is the grand opportunity we have to get an almost new hospital out of this.

”We will be able to develop services we have never had in this area.”