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Hospital CEO says no job cuts expected, services will be increased in shift to ‘Critical Access Hospital’

Posted 9 October 2014 at 12:00 am

Press release, Medina Memorial Hospital

MEDINA – The Buffalo law firm of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP is issuing the following statement on behalf of its client, Orleans Community Health/Medina Memorial Hospital, in response to recent media reports addressing its decision to apply for status as a Critical Access Hospital.

Dolores Horvath, President and Chief Executive Officer, Orleans Community Health Medina Memorial Hospital:

On the reports that the hospital is downsizing:

Medina Memorial Hospital was certified, on paper, for more beds than it actually needed or used to treat the patients of Orleans County, and this paper surplus of beds was preventing us from accessing important state and federal grants, incentives, and other funding.

Changing to Critical Access status will enable the hospital to receive additional significant sources of revenue, funding that will be crucial as we move forward with the goal of better serving the residents of Orleans County and the surrounding region.

Additionally, our hospital was recently designated a “safety net hospital” by the New York Department of Health, a move that signals the state’s belief that Medina Memorial is a vital community resource that provides necessary medical care – including life-saving emergency care – in Orleans County and beyond.

Addressing reports that there is uncertainty as to whether or not hospital staff will be impacted by a potential change in status:

There have been no discussions of any reduction in hospital staff as part of the Critical Access designation. This isn’t about reducing costs through staffing cuts, it is about updating the status of the hospital to best reflect its current level of service and to open the door to new federal and state funding opportunities. It is incredibly difficult in the current market to operate an independent rural hospital, and this classification will help to provide the funding Medina Memorial needs to ensure that we are able to provide high quality health care that meets the growing needs of our community for many years to come.

Responding to the assertion that the hospital is cutting services:
We are not cutting services. Reports that we are seeking to decertify beds in our pediatric department, for example, don’t account for the fact that we have not had a pediatrician on the hospital staff for several years. In reality, the conversion of those beds is a regulatory paperwork issue, not a cut in services.

As the Federal Rural Assistance Center has explained, “Conversion to Critical Access Hospital status does not mean losing services. In some instances, hospitals that have converted to CAH status may choose to expand their range of services to better meet their community’s needs.” That is certainly true for our facility. Under our current plan, we will be able to add cardiology and expanded orthopedic services, two specialty areas that we did not effectively cover, but will be especially critical to serving a rapidly aging population in the years ahead.

On the reports that Critical Access status is reserved for hospitals in “financial distress”:

That is simply not true. The ability to apply for Critical Access status is something reserved for rural hospitals, to promote access to necessary care. A hospital’s financial condition is not part of the evaluation under Federal law.

Statement from Bruce Krenning, Chairman of the Orleans Community Health Board of Directors:

The board of directors has been working diligently for more than a year to evaluate the ongoing status of Medina Memorial Hospital and to develop a long-term strategy that will best serve the residents of this community. Our foremost goal is always providing the highest level of care to our patients, and applying for Critical Access status is an important step in ensuring that the residents of Orleans County and the surrounding region have a hospital that is capable of meeting their medical needs well into the future.