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As Outpatient Care Gains Steam, Texas Hospital Adopts Short-Stay Model

More hospitals may want to consider abandoning their traditional model

To address an increased demand for outpatient services as well as a surplus of inpatient beds, one Texas hospital plans to create a short-stay center –– and it’s a move that other hospitals in the U.S. may want to consider, according to an article in the Port Arthur News. 

Beginning September 1, Christus Southeast Texas– St. Mary will no longer be a traditional hospital. Instead, it will be a “short-stay center,” providing outpatient chemotherapy and infusion services, emergency room access, radiology and laboratory services, and surgical capabilities.

The move has local residents on edge. On the face of the announcement, it sounds like St. Mary Hospital is downsizing before shutting its doors for good. To become an outpatient-focused center this fall, five departments will relocate to another hospital, and patients that are considered “high-risk” or that need prolonged treatment will likely be transferred as well.

“The demand for inpatient services continues to decline, while the demand for outpatient care continues to explode,” Paul Trevino, CEO of the Christus Southeast Texas Health System, said. “Over 98% of the care we provide at St. Mary Hospital today is outpatient care, outpatient services.”

Wayne Moore, Christus Southeast Texas– St. Mary administrator, noted that the rising demand for outpatient services is impacting traditional hospitals throughout the nation, leaving swaths of vacant inpatient beds while outpatient waiting rooms are bustling with patients waiting to be seen.

“When we say we’ll be a short-stay center, we’re not changing definitions or anything like that. We’re just focusing on the services our patients are using now,” Moore said. “We will still provide inpatient and outpatient surgeries, but now we’re catering to patients who only need to stay three or four days.

“An outpatient surgery is simply a surgery where you’re either going to have your procedure and leave that same day, or you’re going to stay overnight and leave the next morning. A short-stay inpatient surgery covers procedures like total joint — a full hip or knee replacement, things like that — colon and gall bladder surgeries, and gynecological surgeries like hysterectomies. These are all surgeries with quick recovery times, where our patients don’t usually stay more than four days.”

Moore said that the “underutilized services” that will relocate on September 1 include obstetrics, neonatal intensive care, and pediatric, cardiovascular, and general medicine inpatient services.

Trevino added that approximately 251 of St. Mary’s 413 associates will be retained on staff to operate the new short-stay surgical inpatient facility. The remaining associates will be offered opportunities within the Southeast Texas region.

Source: Port Arthur News; July 26, 2015.

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