Hospital implementing ‘re-organization’ plan


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A hospital in the region is changing its focus and cutting services and staff to get in a “sustainable financial position.”

Sturgis Hospital, at 916 Myrtle Ave. in Sturgis, said today on its Facebook page it is focusing on outpatient services and closing several inpatient departments as part of a “re-organization plan” that begins on Dec. 3, citing financial challenges over the past 18 months.

The plan will be implemented over the next 30-45 days, and departments closing will assist in transitioning patients to new providers.

Robert LaBarge, president and CEO of the hospital, said wages and benefits account for over 50 percent of total hospital costs, and the equivalent of about 60 full-time position layoffs are "inevitable with the reduction of inpatient services." The actual number of layoffs may be smaller as employees assume necessary vacant positions within the hospital.

The hospital has already closed “non-profitable” departments, including its wound clinic, home health, pain clinic and an urgent care center in Constantine.

Other parts of the operation being cut at an undetermined time include hospice services, obstetric services and the cancer treatment center. The hospital said other hospice providers can service Sturgis area patients, and there are three other hospitals within 30 minutes that have obstetric services units.

The hospital is also adjusting the staffing and structure of the emergency department and reducing inpatient beds from 49 to four.

Phyllis Youga, a spokeswoman for the hospital, added the birthing center will deliver babies through Dec. 31 and continue offering postpartum care after that date.

Youga said patients will need to travel to other nearby hospitals for inpatient services once the departments at Sturgis Hospital have been closed.

LaBarge said the goal is to keep the most in-demand services available locally and partner with other health systems for inpatient and specialty medical services.

Whether or not future partners offer inpatient services in Sturgis or elsewhere is their choice, Youga said.

LaBarge said outpatient services typically make up 80 to 85 percent of the hospital’s activity.

Numerous outpatient services will remain available at the onset of the new plan: family and internal medicine doctors; outpatient surgery; diagnostic radiology, including X-ray, MRI and CT scan; laboratory services; urgent care; rehab services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy; the sleep medicine center; and cardiac rehabilitation.

LaBarge said the financial challenges come as reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and other insurers have not kept pace with the hospital’s increases in costs and decreased volume.

Before transitioning to focus on outpatient services, LaBarge said the hospital must establish a  “sustainable financial position.”

“Health care is continually changing,” LaBarge said. “The old ways don’t work for a small hospital any longer, so we have to embrace new ways of doing things. It’s time to restructure our operations in a way that is consistent with what we believe the future of health care will be for rural communities.”

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