The reasons behind 14 hospital closures

From declining patient volumes, reimbursement challenges, spiraling labor costs and collapsed health system deals, many factors can contribute to hospitals shutting down.

Here are the reasons behind 14 hospital closures in the last 12 months: 

1. Dallas-based Steward Health Care shared plans Dec. 4 to close its Stoughton, Mass.-based New England Sinai Hospital in spring 2024 and relocate patients to a nearby skilled nursing facility by early April. The closure has been attributed to financial challenges and "chronic low reimbursement rates" for Medicare and Medicaid services, which has resulted in Steward losing $22 million from NESH operations. 

2. Although there were several attempts to save it, La Grange, Texas-based St. Mark's Medical Center closed its doors Oct. 12 after unsuccessful efforts to fulfill its financial obligations. After cutting nearly half of its staff in February, the hospital converted to a Rural Emergency Hospital designation to preserve its emergency department services and most outpatient care. However, the hospital found it could no longer sustain the $13 million of mortgage debt, as it had been paying less than the full mortgage since 2020. 

3. Herington (Kan.) Hospital abruptly shut down Oct. 9 due to "lengthy financial struggles and consistently low patient volumes." While it is unclear how many  employees were affected by the closure, Herington Hospital's LinkedIn page reports it employed 51 to 200 workers. The 25-bed critical access facility had been providing healthcare services to the community since 1919. 

4. Grand Rapids and Southfield, Mich.-based Corewell Health closed its Lakeview, Mich.-based Spectrum Health Kelsey Hospital in October after a steady decline in admissions. The small, rural community hospital opened in 1962 and was having problems with aging infrastructure. The 16-bed hospital recorded only a handful of inpatients over five years and none in the last three. 

5. Avail Hospital Lake Charles (La.) permanently closed Sept. 29, with no reason given for its closure. The 33,000-square-foot facility was billed as Louisiana's first microhospital when it opened in 2017. Nic Hunter, the mayor of Lake Charles, said he spoke with other healthcare providers regarding employment for Avail employees.

6. After a temporary closure during Hurricane Idalia, Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare permanently closed its HCA Florida Trinity West Hospital in New Port Richey, Fla., on Sept. 8. The hospital, which offered mental health services, was consolidated and transferred its services to HCA Florida West Tampa Hospital and HCA Florida Largo West Hospital on Aug. 30. 

7. South City Hospital, a 178-bed facility in St. Louis, closed in August after struggling to overcome various financial challenges. The 154-year-old hospital had been under receivership for the past few months and began transferring patients to other facilities and winding down the facility Aug. 4. A substantial portion of the hospital's patients were uninsured or underinsured, and many of its beds were dedicated to treating behavioral health patients. The hospital had changed owners multiple times in recent years, drifting in and out of bankruptcy court. 

8. Martin General Hospital, a 49-bed facility in Williamston, N.C., suspended operations Aug. 3 and plans to file for bankruptcy. The hospital, which lost $13 million in 2022, cited financial challenges related to declining population and utilization trends as reasons for the decision.

9. Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport, N.Y., closed June 17 after years of financial difficulties. Annual revenues that totaled more than $70 million a decade ago fell to under $35 million by 2021, with the hospital failing to turn a profit since 2015, according to The Buffalo News. In November 2019, the 115-year-old hospital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and signed a management agreement with Buffalo, N.Y.-based Catholic Health. The system originally planned to keep Eastern Niagara open until replacement hospital Lockport Memorial could open, but funding challenges made it difficult to continue operations.

10. Spring Valley, Ill.-based St. Margaret's Health shuttered all operations June 16, after running out of resources to continue operations. The closure included all operations — hospital, clinics and other facilities — at both St. Margaret's Health Spring Valley and St. Margaret's Health-Peru (Ill.). The closure came on the heels of continued financial distress.

11. McLaren St. Luke's in Maumee, Ohio, closed May 8 and ceased all outpatient services after years of declining revenues and an unstable reimbursement environment. The hospital experienced "historic financial losses" that began long before COVID-19 that "ran into the millions each month," McLaren St. Luke's President and CEO Jennifer Montgomery said. Cincinnati-based Mercy Health acquired the hospital campus from Grand Blanc, Mich.-based McLaren Health Care on June 1 and worked with WellCare Physicians Group practices through the transition to maintain the continuity of patient care.

12. San Antonio-based Texas Vista Medical Center, part of Dallas-based Steward Health Care, closed May 1. The 325-bed hospital was already struggling financially when Steward acquired it in 2017, and the pandemic exacerbated its losses. Traditionally, the hospital served lower-income patients; nearly one-quarter of its patients cannot and do not pay for medical services, according to a March 1 news release. The closure resulted in 827 layoffs. 

13. St. Margaret's Health-Peru (Ill.) closed Jan. 28, citing various financial and economic factors as well as a cyberattack, which prevented the hospital from being able to bill or get paid in a timely way. The hospital also cited severe staff shortages. 

14. Madera (Calif.) Community Hospital officially closed at midnight Dec. 30, 2022, after Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health's plan to buy the hospital fell through. Trinity already owns and operates Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, Calif. In Madera County, one-fifth of residents live in poverty and many do not have health insurance, according to Cal Matters. Recent losses were tied to increases in day-to-day costs, which are difficult to cover over long periods, especially for hospitals with limited reserves. Significant expenses during the pandemic, including paying for expensive travel nurses, financially overwhelmed the hospital. The bankrupt hospital is looking to sell off assets and find a buyer to reopen the facility.


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