Community hospitals fight for survival amid 'precarious' financial outlook

Many of the struggles facing hospitals and health systems are worse for community hospitals that  often resort to drastic measures to keep their doors open, according to the North Bay Business Journal.

Jan Emerson-Shea, vice president of external affairs for the California Hospital Association, called  the financial situation of most community hospitals "precarious at best," partially because of low reimbursement rates from government payers, such as those made via her state's MediCal Medicaid program.

"There's a host of challenges that all hospitals face, but particularly these small, independent hospitals," said Ms. Emerson-Shea. "Some of these hospitals file bankruptcy, some shut altogether, some are able to go to local voters, and some affiliate with larger healthcare systems that have the ability to keep them open and provide them access to capital."

Sonoma (Calif.) Valley Hospital, a 75-bed facility, has been busy this year making moves to stay afloat. his year the hospital  closed its obstetrics unit, finalized an affiliation agreement with the University of California San Francisco Health and transferred ownership of its home healthcare service to Hospice by the Bay, a UCSF affiliate.

"It's become clear that a community hospital can no longer try to be all things to all people, but must refocus on essential community needs," said Kelly Mather, president and CEO of Sonoma Valley Hospital. "We're all facing the same issues."

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