Michigan hospital could close due to staffing challenges, utilization drop & millions in losses

Chippewa County War Memorial Hospital is in dire financial straits after struggling to attract and retain staff — including revenue-boosting orthopedic surgeons — and seeing hospital use decline, Bridge Magazine reports.

The Sault Ste. Marie hospital is one of 18 rural hospitals in Michigan at risk of closing, according to a Navigant report cited by the outlet. Staffing challenges are among the issues that have affected the hospital's bottom line, hospital CEO David Jahn told Bridge.

For instance, the hospital has been attempting to replace one of two staff orthopedic surgeons for two years. Together, the two positions account for up to 15 percent of the hospital's revenue. The hospital's only urologist, who left in late 2018, also has yet to be replaced.

The hospital reported a $1.7 million loss in 2017 and a $4.5 million loss in 2018, but a modest profit of $150,000 so far in 2019. In an effort to regain its financial footing, the hospital has eliminated about 80 jobs and imposed pay cuts in 2014 and 2018.

After seeing hospital utilization drop from 12,402 inpatient days in 2012 to under 10,000 in 2018, Mr. Jahn said he's unsure how long the hospital will be able to remain independent. There has been discussion about affiliating with larger healthcare systems.

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