Greene Memorial Hospital stops surgeries; levies expected to expire

No surgeries will take place at Greene Memorial Hospital, and a county leader doesn’t expect the levies that support the hospital to be presented to voters for renewal after they expire.

Kettering Health Network, which operates the Xenia hospital, confirmed with the Dayton Daily News that the operating rooms have been permanently closed.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Greene Memorial Hospital ICU closure raises levy questions

“While we do not believe the changes are in line with the levy language and intent of the voters, we have been advised that the commissioners do not have the legal authority to stop collections and disbursements from a properly voted issue,” said Brandon Huddleson, Greene County administrator. “However, based on these new developments, I would not expect GMH to request a renewal of the levies that expire in 2021 and 2023 nor would I expect the commissioners to approve them if they did. The levies were intended to support a fully functional hospital and we do not believe GMH is fully functional.”

Kettering Health had furloughed employees and temporarily suspended many services throughout the system to keep capacity and supplies free out of preparedness for a coronavirus pandemic surge. With more supplies built up and without a big surge in cases, hospitals are now resuming more procedures but said the operating rooms at the Xenia hospital will remain permanently closed.

Jimmy Phillips, director of Kettering Health marketing and communications, said before the pandemic there were financial challenges like the need for about $17 million over the next three years in capital improvements in order to maintain services. But with the pandemic, he said the suspending of many procedures meant more challenges from less volume and revenue.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Greene County voters asked to renew levy for hospital

“What we’ve decided to do, in order to keep that same high quality health care in Xenia, is to continue operating under the same structure that we’ve been using during COVID-19 and that means permanently closing the operating room and also staffing the inpatient unit based on projected patient volume,” Phillips said.

The health system is upholding the levy agreement, according to Phillips.

“While there are services that are called out and required in the levy, and there are certain ones that are not, doing surgical procedures and having an operating room is not something that’s required by the levy,” Phillips said.

Phillips said “It is also inaccurate for Mr. Huddleson to imply that Greene Memorial Hospital is not a fully functional hospital.”

“Greene Memorial Hospital continues to provide high quality inpatient and emergency care as a hospital, as we always have, while investing in the future by bringing more physicians and providers to Eastern Greene County. Kettering Health Network has invested millions of dollars in this region, including a recent $1.3 million expansion of our Jamestown facility. This has resulted in a 30% increase in visits, which justifies the need for and expansion of services.”

He said the system is also working on plans for a new outpatient facility in Xenia near the new REACH Center.

Phillips said they’ve worked proactively with staff to find them other jobs in the system and they still have more than 300 employees at Greene Memorial.

“So far we’ve been able to find jobs for 76 of those 122 individuals at other facilities in our network, most of them at Soin Medical Center, still in Greene County and where people don’t have to move if they don’t want to,” Phillips said.

The hospital is supported financially by taxpayers through two .5-mill levies. In 2018, Greene County voters renewed one of the levies for five years, generating about $1.75 million a year to support Greene Memorial Hospital. The levy costs homeowners close to $14 a year for every $100,000 value of property.

The levy controversy flared up this spring, when Greene Memorial closed its intensive care unit, and patients who need those services are transported 12 miles away to Soin. In 2018, the ICU had reported treating 16 patients for 1,575 patient days of care.

Huddleson said this week via email that he and the county commissioners became aware late last week that GMH was again taking steps to reduce services. The operating rooms were originally closed along with the Governor’s order to halt elective surgeries.

“They had also closed the ICU several months ago and were challenged by the commissioners to find a way to re-open it within 60 days. We are now told that closure will remain in effect as well. Obviously, these decisions are a huge blow to the availability of crucial services in eastern Greene County and to the medical professionals who rely on the hospital for employment,” Huddleson said.

About 5.8% of Greene Memorial’s operating expense was paid for by the levy in 2019, according to a financial report provided to the county by the hospital.

In the latest Ohio Health Market Review, report author and consultant Allan Baumgarten found that Kettering Health Network had a 12.4% margin in 2016 when including investment income and philanthropy, while Greene Memorial had a -9.1% margin. That year, almost 87% of patients at Greene Memorial were paying with Medicaid or Medicare, which pay hospitals far less for services than health insurance provided by a patient’s employer.

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The levies have been controversial for years, with community debate over whether the private health network should be supported with public dollars and whether the dollars truly translated into a sustained level of service when many treatment lines have been closed or transferred.

Greene Memorial Hospital became affiliated with Kettering Health Network in 2008. Kettering Health later built Soin Medical Center in nearby Beavercreek, which it has continued to expand.

At Greene Memorial, the maternity unit closed in 2009, in 2012 inpatient psychiatric and rehabilitation services shut down, the end of 2019 its Trauma III designation expired and was not renewed, and earlier this year the intensive care unit shut down.

Greene Memorial transfers, closures

2008: Greene Memorial joins Kettering Health Network

2009: Maternity closes

2012: inpatient psychiatric, rehabilitation services shut down

2019: Trauma III designation not renewed

2020: ICU, operations closed

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