California hospital to end orthopedic services amid financial constraints: 5 things to know


King City, Calif.-based Mee Memorial Healthcare, a critical access hospital, has eliminated orthopedic services due to financial difficulties.


Five things to know:

1. Mee Memorial announced plans to reduce staff and services, including orthopedics, on July 19. The hospital plans to discontinue staffing for its ICU and halt orthopedic services at the hospital.

2. The change was announced after the hospital spent months reviewing and implementing other cost-saving measures, such as eliminating or revising operating contracts. However, these changes did not do enough to improve the hospital's financial situation.

3. Hospital CEO Michael Hutchinson blamed increasing competition and reduced Medicare, Medi-Cal and private payer reimbursements as well as unreliable government funding for its financial challenges.

"We have no choice but to react to lower volumes, lower reimbursement rates and to address the impacts of the transition to electronic medical records," he said. "We are currently overstaffed and need to reduce our employee numbers in order to come in line with other small rural hospitals, and to ensure we are offering efficient and sustainable care to our patients and community."

4. The hospital gave affected employees 30 days' notice, with Aug. 18 being the final day of employment for 43 members of the hospital's 353-person staff. The hospital plans to connect with other local healthcare providers and employers to help employees find new positions.

5. Lead orthopedic surgeon at the hospital Letitia Bradford, MD, spent the past decade practicing there and told the local news outlet KSBW8 that she wasn't given prior notice that the orthopedic program would be cut.

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