OHIO: Hospital Closings Raise Concerns
With five hospital closings so far, 2000 "ranks among the three toughest years for Ohio hospitals in the past 20 years" and raises questions about "hospitals' abilities to keep up the quality of care," the AP/Akron Beacon Journal reports. Ohio leads the nation in hospital closings this year. The Beacon Journal reports that Ohio hospitals have faced "fiscal challenges," including "years of tight reimbursement" and caring for the increasing uninsured population. Mary Yost, spokesperson for the Ohio Hospital Association, said, "What our members are saying is that this year has been unprecedented in terms of the financial stresses hospitals are experiencing." Community advocates said that with the closings, low-income individuals are "losing services." Claus von Zychlin, executive vice president of operations at TriHealth in Cincinnati, said, "Our reimbursement simply is not at a level that pays for quality care. And that makes it tough to reinvest in our facilities." Scott Keller, president of Dynamis Healthcare Advisors, which completed a study about Ohio's hospital closings, said that access to health care is not the "main concern" with hospital closings, but "access to the latest in new medicines and diagnostic services," which are more often provided in non-hospital settings, is a large concern. Yost added, "We can't say quality of health care has been affected by X number of percentage points. But there is concern that if you keep cutting, you will reach a point where quality is affected." However, some analysts have said that the closings should not cause alarm, as the state maintains more hospitals than needed by its population. Keller said that even with the near-record number of closings, "Ohio still has more than 50% more hospital capacity than it needs" (8/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.