A Roman Catholic healthcare system plans to shut down a small money-losing hospital it owns in rural Missouri.
St. Louis-based SSM Health Care has announced it will close 60-bed Arcadia Valley Hospital in Pilot Knob, Mo., on Aug. 27. Pilot Knob is about 75 miles south of St. Louis.
The hospital, which includes 24 long-term-care beds, will cease admitting patients and close its emergency room July 30.
"The community cannot support a full-service hospital," said Dixie Platt, spokeswoman for 21-hospital SSM.
Platt declined to release recent hospital financial data but said, "(The facility) has lost money for more than a decade."
In 1997, the small hospital lost $577,163 on net patient revenues of $8 million, according to HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare information company. The previous year the hospital lost $434,178 on net patient revenues of almost $7.7 million.
Closing the hospital does not mean SSM is abandoning its Roman Catholic mission, Platt said.
"Mission means being good stewards of our resources," she said.
The religious order that sponsors SSM took over Arcadia Valley in 1934.
A problem for the small hospital, according to SSM, is that most residents in Iron County travel for their care to three other hospitals located within a 25-mile radius.
For example, Platt said, recently there were only four inpatients at the hospital, although all its 24 long-term-care beds were full.
According to a memo sent to hospital employees, SSM considered a number of options to try to keep Arcadia Valley open, including looking for a buyer.
SSM sent out 14 inquiries, "but received no substantive interest," according to the memo.
A local not-for-profit development group is now searching for a savior for the hospital.
"They (SSM) made a good corporate decision," said Van Robinson, president of the Arcadia Valley Industrial Development Corp. "I think a majority of the people understand."
About 180 full-time and part-time employees will lose their jobs, although some may get new ones at other SSM facilities in St. Louis.
Robinson said his group is most concerned about keeping the hospital's emergency room and laboratory open.
Platt said while the community cannot support a full-service hospital, "they still need primary care."
She said SSM is working to try to keep its four employed physicians in the area.
"We are really committed to keeping primary care there," she said.