Feb 26 2014

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Good Shepherd Health System cutting back

Good Shepherd Health System has announced the impending closure of its satellite facilities in Linden, Texas effective April 30th. The Linden Municipal Hospital Authority has also been informed of this development. The clinics are Good Shepherd Medical Associates Family Health Centers located at 404 North Kaufman in Linden and 201 East 2nd Street in Hughes Springs.

With capital investments that have exceeded $6 million, GSHS has made major investments in time, personnel and overall resources to insure it continues to provide hospital and emergency room facilities. The rural-oriented clinics that are closing have been in operation since 2005.

Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement cuts to hospitals, the impending loss of Critical Access Hospital status, a 2% reduction in Medicare reimbursements precipitate by the federal sequester, and low patient usage are the factors leading to the closures. Ever since acquiring the Linden center, GSHS has absorbed operating losses of more than $12 million. With an average visiting rate of less than five patients daily, and emergency rooms visits of less that one per hour the facilities are not profitable. GSHA President and CEO Steve Altmiller explained the situation.

“Even with community support, investment in quality personnel and equipment, patient activity was not at a sustainable level,” he said.“This was the basis for this decision.”

Despite the imminent cessation of services the Linden facility will uphold its commitment to providing the absolute finest possible patient care right up to the closure date of April 30. Following this date patients will be able to visit such satellite clinics as Christus St. Michael Hospital in Atlanta, the Good Shepherd Medical Centers in Longview and Marshall, and various medical facilities throughout East Texas.

“This decision, while a very difficult one, is one that is occurring across the country, and has been made so that Good Shepherd Health Systems remain a viable and financially stable healthcare organization,” said Altmiller. “Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, Good Shepherd Medical Center in Marshall, and Good Shepherd Medical Associates will continue to provide patient-centered, state-of- the-art healthcare throughout East Texas today and long into the future.”

East Texas Review asked the following questions:

ETR: Should the community expect any more closures of GSMC clinics/hospitals in the near future? If yes, where and when?

Steve Altmiller, Good Shepherd Health System president & CEO gave these responses:

Altmiller: We are striving to ensure that Good Shepherd Health System’s resources are appropriately spread throughout the East Texas region. Our approach is a hub and spoke model. We constantly review our facility and site resources with our physician leadership. The hospitals in Marshall and Longview are essential to our approach, and we have no intention of closing those facilities.

The Linden and Hughes Springs closures are unrelated to rest of the Good Shepherd Medical Associates Family Health Centers network in East Texas. The Linden and Hughes Springs locations are Certified Rural Health Centers and must meet certain requirements as outlined by federal guidelines. As they no longer meet the guidelines on healthcare shortage areas, the reimbursement to the Centers will be reduced over 70 percent. Added to the high cost of health care, those two centers will not be able to cover the necessary expenses needed to offer safe, quality-centered medical care.

ETR: How does the closures strengthen GSMC Healthcare System as a whole?

Altmiller: Good Shepherd Health System sets the standard for health, wellness and state-of-the-art healthcare in East Texas. Our system includes a multi-specialty physician practice, Good Shepherd Medical Associates, regional medical centers in Longview and Marshall, emergency centers, urgent care centers and medical outpatient services. We leverage the latest medical technology for a broad range of specialty services right here in the communities where our patients live and work. There is nothing positive about a hospital closure. With that said, GSHS remains a viable, high quality health system. Good Shepherd has been a name recognized by generations throughout East Texas as a patient-centered, community-based health system.

ETR: How does it specifically benefit other clinics and hospitals in the System? Can you cite some examples, please?

Altmiller: It is more about eliminating losses and negative cash flows that are being pulled from other resources within GSHS than redirecting dollars. Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, Good Shepherd Medical Center in Marshall and Good Shepherd Medical Associates will continue to provide patient-centered, state-of-the-art healthcare throughout East Texas today and long into the future.

ETR: Some in the community say GSMC has been in financial trouble for a long time because of the expansions into other counties. Do you think this confirms what they are saying or a good organizational assessment and implementation?

Altmiller: We are on a two-year journey to improve our operations, financial performance and community engagement. Our commitment to our mission and vision has not wavered. We have a great history and tradition of excellence and community involvement. We intend to continue this tradition.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.easttexasreview.com/good-shepherd-health-system-cutting-back/

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