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St. Joseph's closing should be no surprise
August 7, 2012 - Jim Smith
The Mid-Ohio Valley might be shocked, but it shouldn't be surprised by the announcement Tuesday that Camden Clark Medical Center will transfer all operations from the St. Joseph's Campus to the Memorial Campus within the next 18-48 months.
Mike King, CEO of CCMC, said there was no grand conspiracy to close the St. Joseph's Campus, but it certainly will save the hospital an estimated $20 million a year in operational costs ... money that could be better spent providing more services at CCMC, including expanding the emergency room, which is filled to the breaking point most days.
When St. Joseph's Hospital and Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital merged to form CCMC, most people could see the handwriting on the wall for St. Joseph's to eventually cease operation as a hospital. Simply put, with the growing trend of out-patient surgery, out-patient testing and out-patient care, there simply were not enough beds being filled in the two facilities to warrant two hospitals.
And, let's face it, insurance carriers are pushing medical facilities and physicians to reduce patients' hospital stays, and private physician facilities are taking many of the insurance-covered patients and patient testing away from hospitals, both of which also cause less demand for two hospitals in an area with declining population.
King says three of the five buildings at the St. Joseph's Campus are no longer used and would cost millions of dollars to bring up to hospital standards if there were to be re-utilized.
Yes, we can all be "shocked" the St. Joseph's demise will come so soon -- 18-48 months -- but that's an emotional tie than cannot be allowed to get in the way of providing expanded health care services in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Yes, the closing of St. Joseph's is a financial issue, but hospitals must be sound stewards of their finances just as any other business, be it for-profit or not-for-profit.
King has said CCMC will try to find places for most of those working at the St. Joseph's facility, a effort that could be aided by retraining and/or attrition over the timeframe it takes to fully merge the two facilities.
We can all shed a tear over the St. Joseph's building being closed, but it doesn't mean the end of health care in the area and could mean a stronger facility being able to offer more services.
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