By: Melanie Evans
As hospitals increasingly lose patients to medical care delivered in clinics and home settings, hospital operators are escalating their efforts to shrink capacity.
Hospitals are operating with fewer beds or closing outright, in some cases to make way for new ambulatory-care centers. In Lakewood, Ohio, where chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are just as prevalent as in the rest of the country, the city is about to close its only hospital, whose 200 beds are typically half empty.
With three other hospitals within seven miles, the low occupancy rate makes city-owned Lakewood Hospital the high-cost provider in the area. “That’s not sustainable or competitive,” said Lakewood Mayor Mike Summers, a hospital trustee.
Last month, the city announced it will replace the hospital with a $34 million ambulatory health center and emergency department. The proposal is a lower-cost, more accessible alternative. The new center will bring another 16 primary-care doctors to a community grappling with diabetes, obesity, heart disease and mental illness. “None of those would you lay in a bed to fix,” Summers said.
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