As outpatient care gains steam, one Texas hospital adopts a short-stay model

To address an increased demand for outpatient services and a surplus of inpatient beds, one Texas hospital plans to create a short-stay center--and it's a move that other other hospitals across the country may want to consider. 

Despite a recent uptick in inpatient use, industry experts expect declining inpatient volumes to continue and care shifting to outpatient settings. Other factors play a part as well, including tepid elective admissions, continual pressure to keep readmissions low, care integration with an eye toward prevention and safer outpatient care due to increased technological innovation.

For these reasons, Port Arthur, Texas, Christus Southeast Texas Health System plans to abandon its traditional hospital model and convert St. Mary Hospital to a short-stay center in early September, according to the Port Arthur (Texas) News. Five of the hospital's departments will transfer to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, as will high-risk or long-term patients. Although these steps have generated anxiety in the community about the possibility of the facility shutting down, the patient population simply isn't using the departing services, Wayne Moore, vice president of operations for Christus Southeast Texas facilities, told the publication.

As demand rises for outpatient care, Moore said, "[w]e have to redefine what hospitals are, which is more and more outpatient facilities with very limited inpatient space. That's how we're changing to fit the needs of our patients--and it's based on the model they've prepared through the services they use every day."

Post-conversion, St. Mary will provide outpatient emergency services, radiology/laboratory services, chemotherapy and infusion, and surgical capabilities, said Christus Southeast CEO Paul Trevino. Emergency services will continue unchanged, with the same ER, Moore said, despite rumors the facility will change its approach to emergency care as part of its overhaul. The hospital will retain about 251 of its 413 current staff.

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