After months of waffling, HealthEast last week said it will keep open St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul, Minn.
The St. Paul-based health system stalled plans to close the 292-bed facility this past summer when physicians questioned the closure.
Fueling HealthEast's decision to keep the hospital open was an unexpected increase in patient volume, which improved the hospital's financial situation and growing community support for St. Joseph's.
A failed partnership with Minnetonka, Minn.-based Allina Health System, HealthEast's main competitor, had no impact on HealthEast's decision, said Doug Cropper, vice president for hospital and outpatient operations.
Allina and HealthEast called off their plans to form a mergerlike partnership late last year. At that time, Allina blamed the breakup on HealthEast's indecision about St. Joseph's (Dec. 22-29, 1997, p. 17).
In August 1996, HealthEast announced its intentions to close St. Joseph's by 2000 and convert its other St. Paul-based hospital, 107-bed Midway Hospital, into an outpatient and community-care clinic. In their place, HealthEast would open a 70-bed hospital and clinic in Woodbury in the year 2000. After HealthEast's conversion of Midway in January 1997, patient volumes unexpectedly increased at St. Joseph's.
The opening of HealthEast's Woodwinds Health Campus in Woodbury will proceed as scheduled.