After a yearlong battle with Medicare auditors, Thomas (Okla.) Memorial Hospital last month closed its acute-care operations.
However, the closure of the rural Oklahoma facility was an anomaly; most of the hospital closures that occurred in Texas and Oklahoma in 1995 resulted from mergers in which inpatient operations were simply shifted to another facility.
Even so, Texas is expected to continue its traditional lead in closures nationally. It reported 18 hospitals ceasing inpatient services in 1995, according to the Texas Hospital Association. That compares with nine in 1994, although only one was an acute-care hospital; the remainder were specialty facilities.
Of the 18 in 1995, 12 were acute-care hospitals, and seven of those were owned by Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. The giant hospital chain simply consolidated inpatient services in another nearby hospital.
In addition, one rehabilitation hospital closed and five psychiatric facilities ceased operations.
In Dallas, the county last month closed its 45-bed Dallas Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. Instead of operating the facility, which was located adjacent to Parkland Memorial Hospital, the county contracted with Timberlawn Mental Health System, Dallas, to provide inpatient services. Timberlawn is a private for-profit hospital that emerged from bankruptcy reorganization last August.
The contract is expected to increase Timberlawn's census by 20 to 30 patients and increase revenues by 25%.
In Oklahoma, Thomas' closure was one of two in the state. The other, O'Donoghue Rehabilitation Institute, closed in March. O'Donoghue was owned by the University Hospital Authority, Oklahoma City.
Thomas' problems stemmed from a 10-bed geriatric psychiatric unit in which Medicare had challenged the hospital's cost reports. Hospital Administrator Charlene Jantz said hospital officials argued with Medicare auditors for much of the year over $270,000 in 1994 costs in the unit. Medicare continued to deny the costs and claim the hospital owed another $135,000.
This was the second ending for Thomas. The 28-bed hospital closed in June 1989, then reopened four months later after a fund-raising drive in the community. The city-owned facility will continue operating a 60-bed nursing home and 10-bed residential-care unit.