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In their attempts to avoid becoming a statistic in the healthcare industry, The Excelsior Springs Hospital Board of Trustees recently met to create what they called a campus of quality healthcare for the future. The plan comes after the board determined changes must be made to the hospital’s services in order to improve their financial standing and remain open to serve the community.
CEO Kristen DeHart and The Excelsior Springs Board of Trustees said they first wish to thank the Excelsior Springs community for their more than a century of support.
“I speak on behalf of the ESH Board of Trustees today and want to thank our community for your ongoing support of our Excelsior Springs Hospital and its service lines over the years,” DeHart said. “This year, ESH is celebrating its 115th year. We plan to be here for many more”.
DeHart said through various media sources, hospital staff have attempted to keep the community updated on activities and advances throughout the year. However, she said the hospital does feel stresses and challenges, but the plans for future growth will provide great opportunities for the hospital’s future. These changes will improve the hospital’s financial performance; solidify operations and growth initiatives while showcasing the hospital’s commitments to the community.
ON A NATIONAL FRONT
To look at a national picture, DeHart said smaller community hospital operations and healthcare, in general, have become extremely complex. What communities once considered successful and popular offerings have changed over time.
“We are not alone in trying to modify and amend our services lines to stay both compliant and viable,” she said. “Since 2013, over 100 rural hospitals have closed their doors, leaving communities without access to healthcare services”.
DeHart said another 60% of rural hospitals currently operate with negative margins. Excelsior Springs Hospital can now be included in that group of “high risk” hospitals operating in the red.
“We have been very fortunate to have a solid reserve to pull from over the years, but that reserve is getting very low," she said. "We have to adjust our operations now, or risk closing the entire system.”
CHANGES IN LONG TERM CARE
As the board evaluated the options to reduce the hospital’s ongoing financial losses, DeHart said it became clear as a hospital they need to return to their core business.
After reviewing countless options, DeHart said the board concluded they must discontinue the operations of the Long Term Care service lines, including the Convalescent Center, Residential Care and Lillian McDavid Independent Living Center at ESH.
“Letters have been sent to residents and their guardians, announcing the closure and relocation assistance plans,” she said. “We anticipate that the closure of the units will conclude by July 12, 2019.”
DeHart said ESH will be working quickly with those most affected by this announcement-- the seniors who currently live in the assisted living and long-term care services.
“We appreciate the long term care organizations in our community who are committed to helping our residents and families as they transition to their new homes,” she said. “Our first priority is to get residents into new housing options that offer safety and excellent care”.
In addition to the closure of the long-term care lines, DeHart said the board’s future plan includes the relocation of primary care clinics to the hospital campus. This will include Dr. Robert Buzard’s office, Dr. Andrew Pickett’s office and The Express Clinic, located within the Price Chopper.
“Moving the physician clinics over to the hospital campus makes sense,” DeHart said. “By doing so, we will be able to provide primary care services with extended hours; A patient arriving at our admitting bay will be directed to the right level of care, have labs drawn, radiology testing completed and prescriptions filled, all in one location. Our employed physicians have been included in this plan and completely support the move and the urgency to make the changes.”
DeHart said the hospital does not have any time to waste in making these changes to improve the hospital financial status.
“If we don’t invest in our core business, we won’t survive,” she said. “Our multi-year deficits require we act. A one-time infusion of funds, even if it were available, would not allow us to put the hospital on a sustainable footing. We simply cannot continue to operate at a negative margin. By resetting the course, These changes will quickly move to correct the negative trends, allowing the hospital and clinics to remain open and later, creating opportunities and expanding services in areas that will serve the community better — and well into the future.”
A STRONGER HOSPITAL
“The Board hopes that the community will support this new vision for the long-term health of the hospital”, said Bob Craven, vice president, Excelsior Springs Hospital Board of Trustees.
“These decisions, while difficult, are the first steps in offering better care, in a better environment, locally,” he said. “The changes made today will stabilize the jobs for our nearly 300 professionals, all committed to this community and keeping healthcare options local and available to everyone. These decisions were not made lightly. These are painful discussions, that will affect many lives, yet our ultimate approval was provided to support and strengthen our hospital; to solidify the core business of providing healthcare that the Excelsior Springs community relies on every day.”
DeHart said she and the board wish to again thank the community for their continued support.
“We appreciate that this is a difficult decision and thank you for your commitment to our Excelsior Springs Hospital and to this amazing community,” she said. “We see the alarming trends across the nation and refuse to become a statistic – another closure. We have a solid plan that others have not been fortunate to have. We have a supportive community that believes in our services and we will continue to bring new and innovative healthcare, new approaches and providers to Excelsior Springs. We will be here for your healthcare needs in the future.”