UPMC Will Close Struggling Hospital

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 16, 2009

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center announced today that its money-losing UPMC Braddock community hospital will close on Jan. 31 because of declining inpatient volumes. Clinical operations at UPMC Braddock will begin shifting to other UPMC facilities next month.

"UPMC's mission of providing access to superb clinical care must be carefully balanced with a prudent stewardship of our economic resources and their effective utilization across the entire UPMC system," says Elizabeth B. Concordia, executive vice president, UPMC, and president, Hospital and Community Services Division. "This decision was made in the face of continued declining community utilization of UPMC Braddock, which impaired the long-term viability of services we're able to offer."

Inpatient utilization at the 123-bed, 277,000-square-foot hospital in Braddock, which is 9 miles east of Pittsburgh, declined significantly in the past several years, UPMC said. Admissions fell by more than 21% between 2004 and 2009 and were projected to decline further in 2010. The average daily census of 51 is well below operational levels necessary to ensure sustainability. Braddock-area residents are increasingly going to facilities other than UPMC Braddock for their inpatient care. In fact, the hospital only has a 20.8% market share, meaning nearly four out of five area residents are choosing to go elsewhere for their hospital care, UPMC said.

Braddock Hospital, which has been on the same site since 1906 though it has gone through numerous renovations, is located within 10 miles of five other UPMC hospitals.

It's not immediately clear if layoffs are planned for any of the 652 full- and part-time employees at Braddock. UPMC said the medical staff at Braddock will be incorporated into the staffs at other UPMC facilities, and that "most current employees will be offered positions elsewhere within the system."

Since UPMC acquired the then-failing Braddock Medical Center in 1996, it has invested more than $60 million in UPMC Braddock, including $30 million in capital projects. The health system also launched a number of outreach and marketing initiatives, and allocated funds in support of community-based physician practices and other "in-kind" health and social services, according to UPMC.

UPMC said it has absorbed nearly $27 million in operating losses over the past six years, and projects another $50 million in operating losses in the next five to six years.

UPMC added it will continue to operate outpatient programs in Braddock. It will also work with local physicians to expand access to primary care and with the community on the disposition or redevelopment of the building and land.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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