A Pretty Lame Excuse

A hospital in Michigan recently had to explain why it’s in financial freefall even after laying off ten percent of its staff.

The problem, you see, is that it has competition.

A news release put out by the Dickinson County Healthcare System explained that

There is an aggressive, direct competitor in our market and they are funneling healthcare dollars into other communities and away from DHCS.

 Imagine that:  like all other businesses, hospitals need to compete for patients – and this particular hospital is none too happy about.

But this particular hospital seems disinclined to do so.  The article continued by noting that

“As we are all aware, the healthcare dollars that are generated in our communities through our insurance coverages and from Medicare and Medicaid are limited,” said John Schon, administrator and CEO of Dickinson County Healthcare System, according to the report. “If patients are referred out of this community for services that are provided at our local hospital, the result will be the loss of these services in the future, eventually leading to the further loss of jobs and jeopardizing the hospital’s future ability to continue to provide the full scope of services it currently provides for our community 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days a year.”

 Mr. Schon said DCHS could have avoided some layoffs if patient volumes had not fallen in the first half of this year.

“The annual impact of these staffing reductions equates to an estimated $4.5 million reduction in our hospital payroll. However, if our hospital patient utilization would have remained the same as 2017, we would have been able to maintain a significant number of these jobs — bolstering our local economy, rather than the economy of other communities where patients are being referred for their patient care,” he said.

And not a word about competing, about fighting back.

If you’re a patient served by a hospital like this, or considering being served by a hospital like this, you have to wonder:  if the hospital isn’t willing to fight for its business, will it be willing to fight for its patients?  To fight to get good doctors?  To get good facilities?  To get good equipment?

And then you have to wonder whether maybe all those people who are choosing to go out of their own community for care might know something you don’t.

Every year, dozens of hospitals in the U.S. close – hundreds in recent years – and more are expected to do so in the coming years.  The good ones, the competitive ones, usually survive.

It sounds as if the Dickinson County Healthcare System isn’t one of the good ones and isn’t one of the competitive ones and that the community it believes it’s entitled to serve might just be better off without it.




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