Hospitals relocate to improve financial fortune

Many hospitals that service poor communities seek a new solution to that problem--by moving to more prosperous parts of town, according to Kaiser Health News.

Although the practice has only involved a small number of hospitals, the publication reports that the number of facilities pulling up stakes to improve their financial fortunes is growing.

The latest example involves St. Elizabeth's Hospital in East St Louis, Illinois, which is one of the poorest communities in the United States. To counteract those daunting demographics--and an aging facility infrastructure--St. Elizabeth's management is applying to build a new hospital seven miles away in O'Fallon, which is much more prosperous and has new housing and retail developments.

The decision has troubled some residents, who say it will allow St. Elizabeth's to shrug its reponsibility to care for poor patients. "I do think they are putting profit motivations over the mission of serving the poor. I am upset and embarrassed (for the hospital)," Geri Boyer, a local businessperson, told KHN.

For-profit hospital operator HCA is pursuing a similar strategy by closing a hospital in Plantation, Fllorida and opening a new one seven miles away in the more prosperous city of Davie, according to the publication. Tennova Healthcare and the Cleveland Clinic are pursuing similar strategies with campuses in Tennessee and Ohio.

"Where you choose to place new facilities almost always involves moving to an area where there is a substantial privately insured population," Paul Ginsburg, chairman of medicine and public policy at the University of Southern California, told KHN.

Not every hospital operator is relocating. HealthPartners will undertake a $140 million expansion and renovation of Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital--and stay put-- the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

To learn more:
- read the KHN article
- check out the Minneapolis Star-Tribune article