The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

November 13, 2013

MMH closes behavioral health unit

By HOWARD BALABAN howard.balaban@journal-register.com
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — In a board decision, Medina Memorial Hospital will close its seven-bed behavioral health unit effective Dec. 31.

“The board struggled with this decision for quite some time,” said Dolores Horvath, CEO of Orleans Community Health. “It’s hard to sustain seven beds for any service line.”

Horvath said there are “other wonderful facilities available” that the hospital will use when evaluating and transferring patients.

Reports have listed the MMH unit as a money-losing proposition. Horvath confirmed that. She said the cost of the unit varied but that the bottom line was that it was indeed operating at a loss.

“We’re no longer in the position to continue losing money on services we’re providing,” Horvath explained.

Going back to the summer when HealthTech Management was brought in to work at MMH, Horvath said its first task was to evaluate all of the hospital services, and the budget for those services.

Two things were immediate red flags: the cardiac rehab unit and the behavior health unit. The cardiac rehab unit, which was only an exercise facility, closed earlier this fall as it was also deemed unsustainable.

The nearest behavioral health unit, Horvath said, is in Lockport. However, the needs of the patient play a role in determining which unit is best, she added, and both Rochester and Buffalo have units in their hospitals.

“There are other outpatient behavioral health services available that are scattered throughout Orleans County and the surrounding area, too,” Horvath said.

Another change that will soon be made at MMH is in the emergency department.

“We’re bringing in a new emergency department and hospitalist group,” Horvath said. “They start on Jan. 19 and they will help us build our patient base.”

Horvath said the current group at the hospital, which had reached a renegotiation period, also made a proposal. However, it was determined to make a change.

“The group we’ve chosen is in over 100 hospitals across the country,” she said. “They have a good track record of customer service.”

The new group is Hospital Physician Partners, Inc. based out of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Horvath said the specifics of the agreement are still being ironed out, but “the important thing to know is that there will still be 24-7 emergency department coverage by a physician and a more robust hospitalist coverage for the inpatient population.”