- Premier Health will close its Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, by the end of the year, shifting services to nearby Miami Valley Hospital, the nonprofit health system announced this week.
- Premier said changes in healthcare policy and local economic forces make operating two hospitals just five miles apart unsustainable.
- The 85-year-old facility has 491 beds and 1,600 employees, according to Premier spokeswoman Renee Roberts. The company said it would work to find positions for displaced employees within the Premier system and offer a voluntary retirement program for those who choose not to make the change.
Premier defended the decision to close Good Samaritan rather than Miami Valley, saying the latter is larger and houses more tertiary services that would be costly to move. Officials also considered Good Samaritan’s aging infrastructure, according to an FAQ on the company's website.
Premier emphasized that other Good Samaritan Hospital locations and its Good Samaritan North Health Center will continue to operate and become part of Miami Valley Hospital.
The move reflects the struggles many health systems are facing with fewer inpatient days, cuts to reimbursement and an emphasis on delivering more care in outpatient settings. It also underscores the disruption of local communities and economies when a major employer closes its doors.
In Minnesota, Mayo Clinic has faced pushback and employee walkouts over plans to shutter its Albert Lea hospital and consolidate services with a facility 25 miles away in Austin, Minnesota. The plan, announced in June, led Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson to write Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy asking him to postpone the move. Noseworthy acknowledged the consolidation is unpopular, but said it “serves the best interests of our patients.”
Hospitals in rural areas have been especially hard hit, with 80 closures since 2010 and nearly 600 at risk of closing, according to iVantage Health Analytics. Cuts to Medicaid funding in President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal and Republican efforts to end Medicaid expansion could force more hospitals to close.
To help rural hospitals survive, policymakers need to let communities define their specific needs and service sets and then create funding mechanisms that meet those realities, according to a report by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for Outcomes Research and Education. That could mean converting some small inpatient facilities into rural emergency care centers.
The need to be flexible and adapt strategic plans is something many healthcare organizations are embracing in the current environment — not just rural hospitals.