Downtown Cincinnati will lose a second hospital in less than three years as TriHealth last week announced plans to close its unprofitable 116-bed Bethesda Oak Hospital.
TriHealth said it will shutter the 102-year-old facility by March 2000. It expects the hospital to lose $19 million on net revenues of $57 million for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2000.
The closure comes despite an $11 million capital infusion in the past three years to reconfigure the hospital for outpatient services.
TriHealth officials said Bethesda Oak has been on a slide since 1989, when it lost $7 million on net revenues of $94.4 million.
Admissions have declined 75% to 4,000 in 1999 from 16,000 in 1989. Births diminished to less than 2,000 from 5,000 during that period.
In 1997, Cincinnati's Health Alliance system closed its nearby Jewish Hospital.
TriHealth attempted to save Bethesda Oak from the same fate by turning its front into a medical mall with outpatient services. But things didn't go according to plan. A proposal to close the hospital's emergency room was never carried out, in part because of physicians' objections.
Medicare cuts, declining reimbursements by commercial payers and a squeeze on the state's Medicaid system have taken a toll on local systems, and the disappearance of the state's certificate-of-need law has moved more services to the suburbs in recent years.
TriHealth President and Chief Executive Officer John Prout said the system has absorbed operating losses at Bethesda Oak for years but could no longer do so.
TriHealth projects a $30 million loss on net revenues of $406 million for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2000. TriHealth officials expect that the closure will improve the system's net operating profit by more than $10 million, with a revenue decline of about $15 million.
The not-for-profit system lost $9.5 million in 1999 on net revenues of $387 million.
TriHealth said it will move services to its other two hospitals, Good Samaritan and Bethesda North, both in Cincinnati. It said most of Bethesda Oak's 620 staff members will work at other TriHealth facilities.