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BusINess » Business Health Care » Host of services leaving St. Margaret’s Hammond campus

Host of services leaving St. Margaret’s Hammond campus

Saint Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers will be shifting a host of services from its campus in Hammond to Dyer and eliminating others all together, the hospital president announced earlier this week.

President Tom Gryzbek announced the changes in a letter to staff members dated November 2. Among the services impacted are the Family Birthing Center, the newborn intensive care unit, the perinatal center, the outpatient surgery department, elective orthopedic and open heart surgeries, the da Vinci surgical robot and the oncology unit.

“The strategic actions announced today help prepare St. Margaret Mercy for the new healthcare delivery system that will be implemented as a result of healthcare reform,” Gryzbek wrote in the letter.

“It is projected that healthcare reform will reduce already-low reimbursement by 15 to 20 percent by 2014,” Gryzbek said.

“Our realignment of services is a proactive step to prepare St. Margaret Mercy for this remarkable reduction while continuing to provide high-quality clinical services that meet the needs of patients in tall the areas we are privileged to serve.”

According to the letter, beginning January 1, the Family Birthing Center will be relocated to the Dyer campus. Maria Ramos, spokeswoman for St. Margaret, said Friday that any woman coming to the Hammond hospital in labor in an emergency situation will be able to deliver in the emergency room.

Women in labor who are not in need of emergency care will be stabilized and transported to the Dyer campus, Ramos said.

Also on January 1, the newborn intensive care unit in Hammond will close, with the Dyer campus featuring a special care nursery. Newborns in need of critical care will be transported to St. Anthony Medical Center in Crown Point when their new facility opens in March, hospital officials said. During the transition, newborns will be transported to other area NICUs.

The perinatal center in Hammond is scheduled to close in February. Patients in their third trimester will continue to receive treatment at the Hammond center until their babies are born, according to hospital officials.

The outpatient surgery department will merge with the main surgery department while elective orthopedic and open heart surgeries will shift to the Dyer campus as will the da Vinci surgical robot. The Hammond oncology unit will transition patients to other nursing units as well.

Ramos said five hospital employees lost jobs as a result of the move, with a number of others being shifted into other hospital roles.

“We believe when all of these moves take place, St. Margaret Mercy will be stronger,” Ramos said. “It is a pro-active measure. Our administration worked very hard to ensure minimal impact for our staff and patients.”

Staffing at the Hammond campus is expected to stabilize based on a new staffing model next year, which will be based on current patient counts, the letter said.

Gene Diamond, regional CEO of Sisters of St. Francis Health Services, which operates the Dyer and Hammond hospital campuses, told The Times last month that the system would have to reduce about $140 million from budgets over the next four to five years as a result of an expected reduction in Medicare reimbursements. Diamond said the weak economy is also casting a pall

“In 30 years as a healthcare executive, I’ve never worked at an organization where we were actually able to do that once,” Diamond said. “So how we’re going to be able to do it for a consecutive period of four years is a mystery.”

Times Staff Writer Bowdeya Tweh contributed to this report.

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