After careful consideration, the Hocking Valley Community Hospital (HVCH) Board of Trustees has concluded that the hospital’s Skilled Nursing Facility (long-term care unit) must close in order to preserve the hospital’s overall ability to serve the residents of Hocking and surrounding counties. LeeAnn Lucas-Helber, HVCH President & CEO, summed up the feelings of the Board stating, “This is a heart wrenching decision, but necessary for the hospital’s financial viability”, sighting the challenging economic times and decreasing reimbursement as key factors.
An in-depth focused review of the Skilled Nursing Facility service line began in 2012 to determine the best course of action with respect to installation of a sprinkler system which is required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Sprinkler system installation would cost anywhere from $200,000 to $260,000 to comply with the regulation. In addition, significant upgrades to patient rooms would be necessary to meet minimum standards in the next 3 to 5 years.
The Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) has lost money for the past several years and lost nearly $800,000 last year alone. This difficult decision was made only after it became clear that investing in a sprinkler system was just the beginning of many upgrades that would be necessary due to pending regulations. Any upgrades to SNF would also require that the 7 patients move out during the construction, leaving questions as to whether families would want to endure another move to return.
“HVCH cannot continue to absorb these losses without jeopardizing other programs and services that are needed by our community,” said Lucas-Helber. “HVCH must focus its resources on providing services that provide the most benefit to residents of Hocking County and align best with our core business”.
HVCH’s decision to close the SNF has been made by other hospital-based long term care facilities. In fact, only 3% of all Ohio SNF’s are hospital-based.
HVCH’s SNF will close no later than December 31, 2012. The exact closure date will be determined by when patient’s and their families elect to transition to another facility. HVCH will facilitate each transition and assist families as needed. In addition, HVCH has a transition plan in place for affected hospital employees.