Sunday, April 13, 2008

Closings, Mergers and New Services

SSM Healthcare

SSM Healthcare in St. Louis, MO, announced that they will be closing St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Blue Island, Illinois after years of sustaining losses for that hospital in eight figure range annually. In the press reports SSM could not even give it way.

They have taken some hits in the media, but decision like this are never taken lightly. I know some of the senior leadership at SSM and I can assure you that they took this decision with the greatest of care and deliberation. Mission has always come first. And I do agree that SSM has to consider the viability of the system as a whole to carry out their mission of service and care to all. Sometimes one part must be sacrificed so that the mission can continue on for the greater good.

What is missed in all of this is question: where were the other Catholic systems in the Chicago area, Provena, Resurrection, Loyola, and St. James, Palos Community (yes they are Catholic but keep it a secret), Mercy and St. Joseph? They sure did not step up to the plate. Maybe the press should take some time to ask why and look a bit deeper. The Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal George kept painfully silent in this as well.

The timing was not good as SSM announced that it would build a replacement hospital in Janesville, WI. Now that could have been handled better, but that decision was not related to the St. Francis closing. Maybe some day hospitals and health system will finally figure out PR is important and that they generally are clueless about it.

Mergers
Condell to Advocate Healthcare, Oakbrook, Illinois, Gottlieb to Loyola Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois and Lake Forest in discussions with Evanston Northwestern, Evanston, Illinois. The Chicago market is heating up with the sub prime mess, tighter lending requirements and cheap capital going by the wayside. Poor at best payer contracts , the uninsured and bad debt are forcing these consolidations. This trend is not so different from what is happening around the country. Look for 08 and 09 to be big in the consolidation of hospitals. More to come stay tuned.

New Services
A brand new hospital not even opened six months gets approval from the State of Illinois to add a cardiac cath lab. In another one of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board huh decisions, with six existing cardiac cath labs within easy distance of the population that is already being served, Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Bolingbrook, Illinois adds another cath lab bringing to seven cardiac cath labs to the region. Here we go again with health planning at its best, another unneeded service in the region with all the hospitals competing for a limited patient base and driving up healthcare costs. Quality does not improve and may even be adversely effected by this decision. In the end we all suffer and pay higher prices.

Then the Planning Board denies Edwards Hospital, Naperville, Illinois third CON application for a new hospital in Plainfield, Illinois when additional beds are needed. Go figure.

Up next Silver Cross Hospital, Joliet, Illinois wanting to build a replacement hospital. The only small issue is that they want to build the hospital three miles east in a very affluent and growing south suburb of Chicago with a major expressway newly opened. The current hospital is located in section of Joliet with a high Medicaid, self- pay and indigent population. But the officials say that they are not abandoning those patients. Yea right, with a virtually non-existent public transportation system, how are those people going to get there?

Patient satisfaction
Coming soon, as an author and established expert on patient satisfaction soon to come will be a some comments on the whole patient satisfaction information just released and where we need to go from here.

Thanks for reading!

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