A Message from your Camden Clark Medical Center to the People of our Community.
On Tuesday, August 7, we announced plans to eventually consolidate all of our hospital services on the Camden Clark Medical Center Memorial Campus over the next two to four years. There have been many reactions to this news, expressed as concerns and inquiries, but the important message is that this is a necessary step for the future of our community hospital. In 2011, we became one hospital, and since that time have diligently planned and acted on how to provide hospital services in the most efficient and effective manner.
At one time, there were 850 inpatient beds between the two local hospitals. With the shift to outpatient services and the decreasing demand for inpatient services, the average occupancy of the two campuses now stands at 250 inpatients on any given day, a decline of several hundred patients on a daily basis over the last couple of decades. And yet, during that same time, our outpatient volumes grew from a handful to over 300,000 per year. Technology has enabled our physicians to do more and more on an outpatient basis, and we believe this is a trend that will continue.
So while the traditional inpatient volumes declined, the current condition of the facilities at the St. Joseph’s campus has deteriorated. The sad fact is, over the past several years, the previous owners of St. Joseph’s Hospital simply did not invest in the infrastructure and upkeep of that facility. Maintaining that partially used campus is costing millions a year at a time when future funding for hospitals is uncertain. Even if parts of buildings are not being used, maintenance, utilities, heating and cooling bills must be paid. The substantial investment that it will take to upgrade, not to mention maintain that campus is better spent in one place to provide state of the art physical facilities.
Finally, with the financial challenges we face, especially in preparation for the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we cannot ignore the ongoing duplication of services at both campuses. Our organization takes seriously the responsibility of spending resources that the community provides to operate a hospital. Continuing to duplicate services because of two geographic locations is both unwise and wasteful.
This consolidation will not, and cannot, happen in days or months. We’re going through a thorough planning process and will make changes only in a planned and orderly fashion. This is not something to be feared. Rather, it is a process we should embrace. We believe that the consolidated future of Camden Clark Medical Center is full of opportunity and growth.
Finally, this does not mean an end to the St. Joseph’s mission. There will always be a St. Joseph’s presence and spirit at the new Camden Clark. The rich tradition and history of St. Joseph’s is not contained in a building – it’s in the people, the clinical care, the teamwork, and the concern for patients and their families. That will continue.
What will the new campus and employment look like after consolidation? It’s too early to tell. We’ll take it step-by-step, working with our medical staff, employees and civic leaders during this transition. We will explore several alternatives. Those decisions have not yet been made.
This day was, I believe, inevitable as most of us longed for coordinated, unified services in our hometown. The past conflict between the two hospitals is something that beleaguered our progress far too long. Our consolidated future means we will compete with the best in the state and the region.
What I ask is you keep an open mind toward the great possibilities that can evolve over the next few years from our one major medical center campus, the third largest in the state. In return, what I pledge to you, and our board pledges to you, is to keep you apprised of our progress as we go along.
The challenges are great and change is never easy. However, I firmly believe this decision truly is in the best interest of our community for the long term. Despite what changes come, be assured that our focus has always been and will continue to be to provide the very best health care services for our community. Indeed, stronger and healthier!
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