With five hospital closures as of the beginning of this month, Ohio is on track to exceed the number of hospitals-six-that closed last year. Ohio's record number of hospital closures is eight in 1996.
The most recent hospitals to have closed their doors were 108-bed Mercy Hospital Hamilton and Columbus Community Hospital.
Columbus Community closed after failing to turn around operations under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
At Mercy Hamilton, officials were projecting a $39 million loss over the next three years, according to a written statement released when the closure was announced in March.
"No institution can absorb these kinds of losses," said Thomas Urban, the hospital's president and senior vice president of healthcare delivery for parent Catholic Health Partners of Cincinnati.
All five hospitals closed because of financial losses, which contrasts with the planned closures of the early to mid-1990s when hospitals consolidated after mergers, said Mary Yost, vice president of the Ohio Hospital Association. Beyond the losses, no single factor links the shuttered hospitals. They were urban, rural and suburban facilities of varying sizes, Yost said.
Mercy Hamilton's closure left Hamilton, population 62,000, with one acute-care facility, 135-bed Fort Hamilton Hospital, owned by the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati. Hamilton is 30 miles north of Cincinnati.
Mercy Hamilton's closure brings to three the number of Cincinnati-area hospitals that have closed in the past three years. The Mercy Foundation, operated by Mercy Hamilton's sponsor, Cincinnati-based Sisters of Mercy, will continue to provide financial support to a primary-care clinic in Hamilton.
Fort Hamilton has hired 152 new employees since March and is building a new emergency room to nearly double its capacity. "We've seen huge increases in volume," said James Kingsbury, president and chief executive officer of Fort Hamilton Healthcare Corp., the greater Cincinnati subsidiary that oversees the hospital. "Medical-surgery admissions are up 66% over last April, emergency room admissions are up 35% and inpatient operating volume is up 38%," he said. Mercy Hamilton's closure "has been very positive for us."
Mercy Hamilton was a victim of its need to control costs and Fort Hamilton's growing market share, Kingsbury said.
Lynn Olman, president of the Greater Cincinnati Health Council, the region's hospital association, said Cincinnati's hospitals receive some of the lowest Medicare reimbursement in the country. "We've been a low-cost area traditionally and consequently a low payment area," Olman said. "When the cuts came in Medicare, we weren't able to absorb them because we didn't have as much fat as hospitals in other parts of the country."