Update: In-patient services at Cooper Green will close at end of - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Update: In-patient services at Cooper Green will close at end of year

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Update:
The 200 positions that will be cut have been identified. Some are filled, others are vacant. Employees will be notified within the next two weeks. Whether or not these hospital employees can be reassigned to a position within the urgent care clinic is up to the personnel board.

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Hundreds of hospital jobs will be cut and Cooper Green patients will have to receive in-patient and ER treatment elsewhere after December 31. That's the county will hand in its acute care license.

But patients should make and keep all appointments. All current services and the emergency room are there until the January 1.

But some hospital supporters are still uncertain about it.

The sale of several Cooper Green Mercy Hospital beds Monday was characterized by one commissioner as a fire sale.

"If you start to sell beds and hospital assets- what comes next?," said Commissioner George Bowman.

His question was answered with a new hospital plan just minutes later.

"Today, we do more outpatient surgical procedures," explained healthcare consultant Otis Story. "Twenty years ago that didn't happen. Things are changing."

Story was hired by the county to develop a new model for Cooper Green.

Monday afternoon, he discussed his findings saying the hospital only uses 103 of its 319 licensed beds. Of those, less than half are occupied on the average day. Yet, 450 employees are on staff. He says the ratio of employees to occupied beds is double the industry average.

As a result, the county CFO says the hospital has drained an extra 10 million dollars in 2010 and 17 million in 2011.

Story says the Affordable Healthcare Act that goes in affect in January will only make matters worse as acute care centers lose more federal dollars. That's why the ER will become an urgent care center and eventually clinics will open around the community.

"The current model is unsustainable. It's broken," said Commission President David Carrington.

But not everyone sees it that way.

"I agree we can get more efficient, more effective. But the current model has worked for 40 years," said Bowman.

At this point, there's no going back. Patients will receive letters with more details about where to go for in-patient care.

Agreements have been reached with local hospitals. but details on that and on the 200 jobs that will be cut are vague leaving supporters just as confused and angry.

"I understand that Jefferson County is in such a hurry to close Cooper Green, it would jeopardize the entire program," said Philmen Hill, a hospital supporter.

Town hall meetings will now be held to give patients and other people in the community a better understanding of the changes ahead.

 

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