After losing money for most of the decade, one of Arizona's oldest hospitals will close Oct. 1.
Central Arizona Medical Center in Florence had not admitted an acute-care patient since mid-June and was losing $250,000 per month, officials said.
Its parent company, Casa Grande, Ariz.-based not-for-profit Regional Care Services Corp., said the facility has lost some $12 million since it was acquired from Pinal County, Ariz., in 1990.
"It's a sad thing to do, but we really had no choice," said Regional Care President J. Marty Dernier.
Regional decided in March that it would shut down the 77-bed hospital's 12-bed acute-care wing in four to six months. Although that has not yet happened, Dernier noted Central Arizona's continued losses also doomed its long-term-care and behavioral-care units, which had a census of about 50 patients.
Current financial results from the hospital are unavailable.
According to the most recent data from the American Hospital Directory, the hospital lost $453,000 in 1996 on net patient revenues of $10.6 million.
Hospital board Chairwoman Cherie McGlynn said reductions in Medicare reimbursement and difficulties recruiting medical personnel to work and live in Florence, a town of about 4,000 some 60 miles southeast of Phoenix, made continued operation of the hospital impossible.
"We've explored a lot of options, but every place we have turned we ran into trouble," McGlynn said. "The dynamics of healthcare are making it very difficult for rural hospitals to survive."
Regional Care's only other acute-care property, 244-bed Casa Grande (Ariz.) Regional Medical Center-35 miles from Florence-will become the closest acute-care hospital for Florence residents.
The possibility of closure loomed about a year ago, when Regional Care stopped subsidizing Central Arizona because of financial problems at Casa Grande Regional, according to McGlynn and Dernier.
A potential buyer for Central Arizona, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based GeraCare, backed out of an earlier deal when it could not get financing, McGlynn noted.
A proposal to convert the hospital to a behavioral health facility was abandoned because re-accreditation would have required the facility to close for at least two months, she said.
Central Arizona held one of the first hospital licenses issued by the state, said Dernier.