Via Christi Health System, Wichita, Kan., plans to sever ties with its sole California hospital.
Officials at St. Rose Hospital, Hayward, Calif., are completing a financial separation plan that could allow the 175-bed facility to operate independently as a non-Catholic community hospital within three to six months. St. Rose has been part of Via Christi since the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wichita opened the facility in 1962.
Via Christi, which also operates three hospitals in Kansas and one in Oklahoma, has long considered leaving California, where hospitals face a host of unique challenges, including costly state seismic-safety mandates and nurse-staffing ratios, said St. Rose President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Mahoney. "Healthcare issues differ significantly from California to Kansas and Oklahoma," Mahoney said.
The move follows a string of health system divorces in recent years, including the departure of three-hospital St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Covington, Ky., from Catholic Healthcare Partners in June
(July 12, p. 7). Atlanta-based Piedmont Medical Center broke ties with Promina Health System, Atlanta, last year and Tufts-New England Medical Center split from Lifespan Corp., Providence, R.I., in 2002.
Via Christi had originally hoped to transfer ownership of St. Rose to a California-based Catholic hospital system. But "for a variety of reasons, there was no interest," Mahoney said.
While stand-alone hospitals often face bigger financial challenges than those affiliated with larger systems, Mahoney said he expects St. Rose to continue to fare well on its own, adding that the not-for-profit hospital has been "moderately profitable" for the past three years. St. Rose posted $72 million in revenue last year and is on track to boost that amount to $80 million this year, he said.
Ending the affiliation means St. Rose will no longer be required to abide by Catholic restrictions on abortion and other reproductive services. Whether the hospital will change its name isn't yet known.