Archbold Hospital will probably close its emergency room and inpatient services by the end of September.
Phil Ennen, chief executive officer of Community Hospitals & Wellness Centers, said Monday, “It’s looking like we’re going to have to do it. July was another poor financial month for (CHWC) overall.
“We’re reaching the point where we have things we don’t want to talk about that we know we are going to have to talk about,” he said.
The closure of the two areas of Archbold Hospital will mean the loss of about 30 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions.
One person working fulltime is equal to one FTE job; two people working halftime are equal to one FTE.
Ennen said across CHWC’s facilities, including Archbold, Bryan, Montpelier, and other operations, there are about 620 FTE positions.
Some of the employees laid off from Archbold may be able to find work in other areas within the CHWC system.
But not all. “Let’s be honest. The whole point of a layoff is to have fewer people working for you.”
1998 to 2010
When CHWC opened the Archbold facility in 1998, it offered outpatient services, a laboratory, x-ray department, and physical therapy.
“In 2002, we made the decision to enter into an emergency department and inpatient services, because we thought there was an opportunity for growth in Archbold, and we would be there to meet that need,” Ennen said.
“The reality is, from 2002 through 2007, we did not experience the growth that we thought. So, the decision we made in 2002 was already questionable from a management standpoint.”
But CHWC’s other operations, including the hospitals in Bryan and Montpelier, home health care, hospice, and others, generated enough money to carry Archbold’s emergency department and inpatient rooms.
“Then in 2008, when (the downturn in) the economy hit, it just made it even more obvious that if the economy did not improve, we were going to have programs and services that we were carrying that we could not carry anymore,” Ennen said.
“And now here we are in 2010, and we have two very Archbold-specific services, inpatient and the emergency department, which we don’t have the resources to carry. There just has not been enough need for those services.
Ennen said the CHWC board of directors is scheduled to meet Wednesday, Aug. 25. At that point, he will present his recommendation, which will probably include closing Archbold ER and inpatient rooms.
His recommendation may also include changes in employee pay, benefits, and even layoffs beyond those from Archbold.
Ennen said the board will give him directions. It will take him a few days to organize the recommendations before making an announcement.
“To be fair to the staff, we would carry out those changes as quickly as we could and have them carried out by the end of September.”
Ennen said there is no community effort that can be made to save the emergency department or inpatient services.
“We don’t want to encourage anybody that some community effort would save the emergency department and save inpatient.
“If the community wants to talk about what could we do to make the hospital more stable, then what we want to talk about are outpatient services. What kind of services do you leave the community to get? What kind of doctors do you leave the community to go see?
“I would enjoy the opportunity to talk about what would be worthwhile, what health care can be provided locally.”
There is no plan to replace the Archbold Hospital Emergency Department with some form of urgent-care clinic.
If Archbold can’t support an emergency room, it can’t support an urgent care, he said.
Closing the Archbold ER won’t compromise the safety of emergency patients, because of the high quality of area emergency medical services plus the high quality of the Fulton County Health Center emergency room, Ennen said.