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Archive for Thursday, July 12, 2001

Debts cause hospital to close

July 12, 2001

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— This city's urban core is without an emergency room after Bethany Medical Center closed its doors Tuesday night.

The financially troubled hospital faced problems typical to other urban hospitals in the country, including increasing health care costs and caring for a high percentage of uninsured patients. Admissions into the hospital also had dropped from 9,769 in 1994 to 6,290 in 1999.

The 109-year-old hospital was operating at an annual $21 million deficit by the time the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System bought it from Columbia/HCA Healthcare in December 1998. The hospital was projected to lose $10 million this year.

"While there are organizations that might be willing to assist us with a program, there was no one who was really prepared to step up and subsidize that kind of a loss over the long haul," said Jim Paquette, chief executive officer of the health system's Kansas City region.

The closure means people living nearest Bethany will travel about 11 minutes longer to get to the next-closest hospital. The closure may also push up admissions into other area Kansas City hospitals.

On Wednesday, the Sisters of Charity opened the Walk-In Health Clinic in the Bethany Plaza Medical Building. Besides the clinic, Bethany Plaza will continue to house such programs as the Lung Center and the Veterans Affairs Community-Based Outpatient Clinic.

The health system also is planning to fill the building with social service and other agencies, Paquette said.

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