Tyrone Hospital announces closing of its obstetrics unit

Tyrone Hospital officials have announced they will close the hospital’s obstetrics service and also discontinue a relationship with Quorum Health Resources (QHR) for management services.
Judith Norris, president of the hospital’s board of directors said the decision to close the obstetrics service was a financial decision and an outcome of the hospital’s recent strategic planning.
Tyrone Hospital’s obstetrics service will be closed effective at midnight on August 15, 2006. Obstetrics patients of Tyrone Hospital are advised to contact their obstetricians for instructions regarding their delivery.
“This was a very difficult decision to make and it is just as difficult to deliver this news,” said Norris. “Historically, it has been very challenging financially for small rural hospitals to offer obstetrics services. The financial hurdles associated with the operation of an obstetrics unit have now put Tyrone Hospital among other small hospitals that can no longer offer this service.”
Walter Van Dyke, CEO at Tyrone Hospital said the hospital has operated at a loss for the past several years and is working diligently to reverse that trend.
He said, “Like many small hospitals we have had to make some hard decisions regarding services that we realistically can provide.”
Van Dyke said staff from the hospital’s obstetrics unit will have opportunities to work in other areas of the hospital.
Some of the factors affecting Tyrone and other small rural hospitals’ ability to support an obstetrics service include reimbursement issues, an aging population and declining births in rural communities, little to no projected population growth in many rural areas, and ongoing recruitment issues associated with a shortage of the professionals needed for obstetrics.
“Our small hospital does not have the volume of births to make obstetrics feasible given all these financial challenges,” said Van Dyke.
Norris said the move to discontinue the hospital’s relationship with QHR is a direction the board of directors think will better serve the community now and in the future. Resources that would have been directed to management contract fees can now be redirected to hospital operations.
In its relationship with QHR, the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer and/or the Chief Financial Officer have been QHR employees. Walter Van Dyke and George Berger will be retained in their current positions as CEO and CFO respectively and both will become employees of Tyrone Hospital and report solely to the Tyrone Hospital Board of Directors. The QHR contract will conclude June 30, 2006.
“We will access consultants in the marketplace as needed for services once rendered by QHR,” said Norris. “Tyrone Hospital will continue to network with other hospitals through the critical access hospital program, as a member of the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), and through its ongoing working relationship with local and regional healthcare providers.”
Norris said hospital leaders will continually evaluate strategic actions that may be taken to support the long term success of Tyrone Hospital.