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Posted on Apr 14, 2016

Hospital announces closing of extended care unit

The Quincy Valley Medical Center is closing its extended care unit, which should save the financially strapped facility about $1.6 million in operating costs, said the chairman of the hospital’s board of commissioners.
“We have to be (operating) in the black,” said Randy Zolman, hospital chairman. “We will be (operating) in the black by August or September, no matter what happens.”
The closing of the unit, often called the “North Wing,” means 10 employees from the unit and the dietary department will be let go and the facility’s 13 patients will be moved to neighboring facilities, said Jerry Hawley, interim CEO at the hospital.
Of those 13 patients, four already have been relocated, Hawley said.
The closure of the extended care unit, which was decided upon at an April 7 special meeting of the hospital’s board of commissioners, will take 90 days to complete, Hawley said.
Hawley, who has been reviewing each of the hospital’s departments, said he expects more cuts to come, including more staff positions. Hospital leaders also need to consider how they will replace the aging facility, he said.
“There will have to be some additional reductions,” Hawley said.
“We’re going to be doing an overall overhaul of the facility,” Zolman said.
The extended care unit provides 24-hour, skilled care that focuses on geriatrics and rehabilitation. It was established at the hospital in the late 1980s, Zolman said.
In 2015, the hospital lost about $1 million. Earlier that year it instituted some $1 million in cuts to staff and services. The hospital also owes Grant County about $3.6 million.
Hospital officials have said in the past that the North Wing does not generate revenue for the hospital. The unit lost about $75,000 last year, Hawley said.
In a recent survey of hospital district residents, people were asked to prioritize four hospital services. About 500 surveys were returned or filled out online. Overall, results showed that the extended care unit was rated as the lowest priority among people who filled out the survey. An emergency room, urgent care and a physician or mid-level clinic all came in above a long-term care unit, according to the results.
“We are going by what the community requested,” Zolman said of the board’s decision to close the North Wing.
The hospital now will form an advisory committee to “better inform the public of the hospital’s status and future plans,” Hawley said.
The committee, called the Health Care Advisory Committee, will be facilitated by a paid professional and made up of community leaders, Zolman said. The board is expected to discuss that position at its April 25 meeting, he said.
Last month, Jeff Davis, vice president of business development for Confluence Health of Wenatchee, visited with local leaders, including hospital officials, about a potential presence in the community.
“I’m all for working with anybody who can help,” Hawley said. “I am happy to talk to and work with Confluence.”
Meanwhile, the Port of Quincy at its Wednesday meeting was to discuss a draft letter to Davis, inviting Confluence Health to work with a community team of about two dozen people to identify a model for health care in the community, said Brian Kuest, port commissioner.
The letter was to be signed by the port and city of Quincy.


— By Jill FitzSimmons,

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