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2016 Year in Review No. 4: Hospital consolidations continue

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SOUTHWEST MISSOURI—While they grew by leaps and bounds in patients and staff, in 2016 area hospitals lost departments and consolidated across the board.

Starting in July, Ozarks Community Hospital announced it would lay off 200 employees amid closures of three of its facilities.

A memo sent to employees indicated the health system closed its Springfield inpatient center at 2828 N. National Ave. on July 18 and would shutter its surgery and emergency departments days later.

OCH CEO Paul Taylor blamed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for terminating its Medicare agreement, leading to the closures and layoffs.

“I am angry. What CMS has done is not right. It is not ethical. There has been no allegation that we are providing substandard care,” Taylor wrote in the memo. “The issue is whether we are doing enough inpatient volume.”

Three days before the closure was announced, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., called on CMS to suspend its termination of the hospital’s Medicare agreement in a letter to CMS.

Days later, OCH held a press conference. Taylor said the losses would reduce OCH’s local employees to around 300 and its systemwide count between 650 and 700. Hospital officials said OCH would seek to retain some of those employees by moving them into positions at its 17 clinics, which will remain open.

The hospital has appealed CMS’ decision.

In October, more shifts in health care financing prompted a merger by two area health care giants. CoxHealth signed a letter of intent to acquire Bolivar-based Citizens Memorial Healthcare in a deal valued at $120 million.

According to the terms of the deal, CMH would retain its name in a co-branded format with CoxHealth, and CMH Executive Director and CEO Donald Babb will keep his position. The Bolivar health care system would have two seats on CoxHealth’s board. CoxHealth is committing an additional $70 million over a seven-year period for capital projects and other needs.

Through the deal, CoxHealth would add to its ranks CMH’s 1,990 employees, 91 providers and 360 volunteers. CoxHealth currently employs over 10,600.
Last year, CoxHealth recorded $1.27 billion in revenue and CMH had $406.9 million.


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