The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health Services plans to convert 209-bed Bethany Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan., to an outpatient campus by mid-July, citing declining patient volume, high overhead and a projected loss of $10 million in fiscal 2001.
The announcement of the pending conversion is the second one this month that will take a money-losing acute-care facility out of commission and replace it with an outpatient center.
In this case, the move will leave the core downtown area without a full-service acute-care hospital. Bethany's sister hospital, 219-bed Providence Medical Center, is 10 miles west; 387-bed University of Kansas Medical Center, the closest acute-care facility, is five miles south of Bethany.
The outpatient campus will have an urgent-care clinic with extended hours but will no longer offer a full-service emergency room. In-house statistics categorized two-thirds of Bethany's ER visits as non-life-threatening emergencies, said James Paquette, chief executive officer of the Sisters of Charity's Kansas City region. The system operates nine hospitals including Bethany and Providence: 36-bed Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth, Kan., three hospitals in Montana, two in Colorado and one in California.
An outside consultant hired by the system recommended Bethany's conversion.
Paquette said Providence is preparing for an increase in ER visits. In a written statement, Tom Valuck, M.D., vice president of external affairs at University of Kansas Medical, said the hospital is at capacity and would be unable to handle a major jump in ER visits. Valuck suggested that a local government task force studying patient access in both Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., work with a broad community coalition to develop a plan for providing care to Bethany's patient base.
"This is going to leave a large emptiness in that area for serving the poor," said a Bethany physician who asked not to be named.
About 136 of the hospital's 670 employees will be laid off. The system will offer the remaining employees positions at the revamped Bethany campus or at the system's other area facilities. Paquette said staff and physicians have accepted the conversion as Bethany's best option.
When the Sisters of Charity acquired Bethany from the former Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. in December 1998, the hospital was running annual losses of $21 million, hospital officials said. In fiscal 2000, Bethany lost $10 million, and it is projected to lose another $10 million this year if acute-care services are maintained. Once Bethany is converted to an outpatient facility, officials anticipate annual losses of $2.5 million.
The renovated campus will house primary-care and specialty physicians, as well as a Veterans Administration clinic, a dialysis center, radiology and laboratory services, and Bethany's lung and wound-care centers.
In a similar case earlier this month, OhioHealth Corp., Columbus, Ohio, said it plans to close its 165-bed Doctors Hospital North campus as an acute-care hospital and turn it into a full-service outpatient facility within the next 18 months. Doctors Hospital, which has north and west campuses in Columbus, lost $15 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2000. A projected loss of $6 million this year is still too high to sustain Doctors North as an inpatient facility, OhioHealth officials said. Doctors North will no longer provide an ER but will have an urgent-care clinic with extended hours. OhioHealth operates eight hospitals throughout the state.