Sudden Hospital Closure Stuns MA Community; More Coming

Cora Nucci, for HealthLeaders Media , April 2, 2014

The events leading to the abrupt closure of the hospital and services from the VNA, hospice, and other providers are complicated. What happens next is unclear. Federal and state lawmakers and local officials are scrambling to craft a fix.

Critical Access Death Spiral

This hospital closure is neither unprecedented nor unexpected. Small and isolated hospitals serving rural communities are vulnerable everywhere. More closures will come. In Georgia, one advocate for rural healthcare access bluntly states that critical access hospitals "have about a seven-year death spiral that's a function of the cost-to-charge ratio."

Critical Access Hospitals Crisis in GA a National Bellwether

North Adams Regional Hospital is not a CAH, and that may have aggravated its financial distress. CAH designation was not granted because the hospital failed to meet at least two requirements—it is less than 25 miles from the nearest emergency department, and it has 36 inpatient beds, which is above the 25-bed cutoff.

But that special designation is just semantics for the people of North Adams, Williamstown, and other tiny communities in the region. NARH has provided critical access to the people living around it since its founding 129 years ago.

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5 comments on "Sudden Hospital Closure Stuns MA Community; More Coming"

Roger Forsberg (4/6/2014 at 7:40 PM)
[...I'm reminded of these lines from Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises: "'How did you go bankrupt?' Bill asked. 'Two ways,' Mike said. 'Gradually and then suddenly.'"....] This quotation provides an astute & knowledgable addition to this unhappy article in the sense that in many ways financial health is similar to human health: in both instances the 'entity', whether financial or human, cannot indefinitely continue to become sicker & sicker. Death (or bankruptcy) will eventually result.

jeff blank (4/5/2014 at 2:35 PM)
Although Medicare and Medicaid payments are less than in the private sector they are far more than reiumbursements in most of Europe. Perhaps one of those countries could come over and show us how it is done for less. The reality is that we pay far too much for healthcare in this country and places like Boston are sucking the dollars out of smaller communities and this is the consequence.. It might be a great case study into developing new in home models of care (although reopen the ER as well).. A 36 bed hospital really can't meet the quality standards it needs to.

bob sigmond (4/3/2014 at 11:22 AM)
I suggest that Partners in Boston offer to get involved to help solve the hospital shutdown crisis as it affects the health of the affected communities. Statewide leadership from the not-for-profit sector is required in this situation.




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