US Hospitals Are Closing As Demand For Care Increases

Declining revenue and increasing expenses are contributing to a growing number of hospital closures in the United States. Moreover, many hospitals that remain open face large financial losses and negative operational margins, both of which are expected to continue through the end of the year. These losses will result in cutbacks, layoffs and downsizing that will reduce patients’ access to needed care.

In the past year, 19 hospitals have filed for bankruptcy, closed or announced plans to close. In Hammond, Indiana, Franciscan Health is set to end in-patient and emergency care at its 226-bed hospital by the end of 2022 because of low patient volumes. This drastic measure replaces the company’s previous plan to scale down the hospital to a 10-bed inpatient unit and emergency department.

In Reno, Nevada, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center will be shutting down its maternal child health program, citing a significant downturn in deliveries and staffing shortages. St. Mary’s will no longer accept obstetric patients for delivery but will continue to provide gynecologic services and emergency care for expectant mothers. The hospital is sending its current patients to “appropriate care destinations,” which no doubt will further strain the hospitals that receive them.

In Cleveland, Ohio, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, which is transforming itself into a provider of outpatient services, ended its in-patient and emergency room services on November 11. The effects of COVID-19 on the health care system are the primary factors for its decision, according to the hospital.

Earlier this month, Wellstar Health System closed the Atlanta Medical Center in Marietta, Georgia, citing increased costs for staff and supplies and declining revenue. Meanwhile, Wellstar President and CEO Candice Saunders draws an annual salary of nearly $2.5 million.