- Ascension Wisconsin’s Milwaukee-based Wheaton Franciscan-St. Joseph Hospital is closing its medical and surgical units, following an 18-month review of market and financial outlooks, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
- The hospital, which serves a largely low-income community, will maintain emergency room services and obstetric care, including neonatal intensive care. Primary care services will also continue on the campus.
- The hospital has been phasing out services for several years after losing $81.9 million between fiscal years 2012 and 2016. About 44% of its patients are on Medicaid, with only 20% covered by commercial health plans.
The move is a further sign of cutbacks in the hospital industry as organizations divest and restructure in an effort to adjust to leaner inpatient reimbursements and a shift to delivery of care in outpatient settings.
In January, Scripps Health announced plans to lower costs by moving more patients away from its five hospitals and focusing on outpatient care. The reorganization is expected to include an unspecified number of layoffs.
Tenet is also in the midst of restructuring in an effort to boost finances in the face of declining admissions. The move, announced in October, involves cuts to its regional management ladder. The Dallas-based hospital operator posted a $704 million loss in net income attributable to shareholders in 2017, compared with net loss of $196 million the prior year.
Last month, Ascension Michigan laid off 500 workers at 14 hospitals, including 20 managers. More layoffs are expected in the months ahead.
St. Louis-based Ascension saw total operating revenue plummet $122.1 million in the second half of last year, compared with the prior year. The company blamed the slide on its divestiture of Saint Joseph Hospital and Door County Hospital, both in Wisconsin, and shifts in patient volumes due to uncertainty over the Affordable Care Act.
There have been signs that Ascension is pivoting away from hospitals as its primary focus. In addition to recent layoffs and downsizing, the company signed a letter of intent to sell St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT, to Hartford HealthCare.
In a video obtained by Modern Healthcare, Ascension President and CEO Anthony Tersigni hinted the company’s future strategic direction will emphasize outpatient access points and telemedicine.