Missouri health system closes hospital, expects $1.2M profit this year

SoutheastHEALTH in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is rebounding from a financial spiral after closing one of its rural hospitals this month and implementing initiatives to improve the financial position of its two remaining rural facilities.

In early February, the health system announced plans to close Southeast Health Center of Reynolds County in Ellington, Mo., and its related clinics. The hospital ceased operations March 11, according to the Southeast Missourian.

SoutheastHEALTH President and CEO Kenneth Bateman said closing the hospital was a difficult decision. However, he said the financial strength of the entire system would be compromised if it continued to absorb the hospital's losses.

The system acquired Southeast Health Center of Reynolds County in 2013. In its three years of ownership, the system absorbed more than $17 million in operating losses. Before it closed, there were fewer than two beds on average filled at the hospital each day.

Southeast Health Center of Reynolds County wasn't the only SoutheastHEALTH facility that struggled financially, as the system's two other rural hospitals have also lost money. The health system has implemented initiatives to stem losses at those facilities, including asking for a half-a-cent sales tax to support its hospital in Ripley County and relocating certain services offered at its hospital in Stoddard County.

The changes taking place throughout SoutheastHEALTH are having a positive impact on its bottom line. In 2014, the system reported a $60 million net loss. In 2015, the system recorded a $489,000 profit. Mr. Bateman told the Southeast Missourian the system has a budgeted $1.2 million profit for 2016.

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