PeaceHealth hospital closure violates city agreement, mayor alleges

PeaceHealth is taking steps to shutter its Eugene (Ore.) University District Hospital amid financial challenges. The city's mayor alleges the impending closure would violate a prior agreement, CBS affiliate KPIC reported Aug. 30. 

Lucy Vinis, the mayor of Eugene, said that PeaceHealth's chief administrative officer contacted her one week before the public closure announcement. Locking the doors would break an "understanding" between PeaceHealth and the city that the system would continue emergency care in the area after building its hospital in Riverbend, Ms. Vinis said. 

Now the system plans to transfer patients to the Riverbend location on the other side of the Willamette River. Ms. Vinis is concerned about the amount of time those transfers will take and asked the Oregon Health Authority to either impose conditions on the hospital closure or deny it entirely. 

"What I would hope is that either that there would be a requirement that they keep the emergency department open, whether or not it contributes to beds if someone needs a bed, they get transferred to Riverbend," Ms. Vinis said in a public statement. "But the emergency department needs to stay open."

Becker's asked Vancouver, Wash.-based PeaceHealth whether it was aware of this agreement with the city and whether any written contract exists. The health system did not directly comment on the matter, but provided this statement: 

"PeaceHealth remains committed to Lane County both now and in the long-term. Ambulatory Services, including PeaceHealth Medical Group clinics and Home & Community services, will remain open and ready to serve the needs of the community in Eugene. We plan to continue investing in new and expanded services at our RiverBend location, which was built to serve the entire region, in addition to our hospitals in Cottage Grove and Florence and numerous clinics."

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