Michigan system to scale back care at rural hospitals

Munson Healthcare, an eight-hospital system, has unveiled a three-year "transformation plan" that will reduce inpatient services in rural areas and increase services at its hospital in Traverse City, Mich., upnorthlive.com reported Sept. 27.

The regional care plan was designed to address the shift to outpatient care, staffing shortages and reimbursement rates that have failed to keep up with rising labor and supply costs. 

Munson's transformation plan details various priorities, including regionalizing inpatient services, adopting a more patient-centric model, expanding its outpatient footprint, improving virtual care and elevating Munson Medical Center in Traverse City to a top-level specialty care center, so patients will not have to travel downstate for services such as critical care, oncology, stroke and cardiology. The health system also aims to transition to one EHR system by 2024.

"This is our opportunity to reinvent healthcare in Northern Michigan to better meet patient needs and keep care close to home," Munson President and CEO Ed Ness said, according to upnorthlive.com. "We spend a lot of time listening to feedback from our patients — they are asking us for an easier and more efficient patient experience; and more outpatient, virtual and primary care services, and this plan will achieve that."

In the east region, Otsego Memorial Hospital in Gaylord, Mich., will convert to a regional hospital with more specialized inpatient services, while Munson's hospitals in Charlevoix and Grayling will become community hospitals with an emphasis on outpatient services, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle. In the south region, Munson Medical Center in Cadillac will serve as the regional hospital, while Manistee Hospital and Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital in Frankfort will become community hospitals.

All of the hospitals will continue to provide observation care and emergency and outpatient services, according to the health system. 

No layoffs are expected as part of the transformation plan, but some job duties may shift based on service changes at facilities, according to the health system. Munson has about 7,500 employees and around 700 open positions.

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