July 25, 2014

Elyria
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EMH: Market can’t sustain new hospital

Officials urge CHP to reconsider plans for Elyria outpatient center

ELYRIA — Officials at EMH Regional Medical Center say a competing hospital system’s proposal to build an outpatient facility on Schadden Road will exacerbate problems plaguing both companies.

A shortage in area medical professionals and mammoth increases in under- and un-insured patients already are taking a toll on the medical industry at large, and CHP Regional Medical Center’s proposal to add another hospital to the mix in Elyria will only complicate things, said Kevin Martin, president at EMH Regional Medical Center.

“We don’t think the market could support another hospital,” Martin said. “We feel (EMH) adequately serves the needs of Elyria — we’ve been able to serve those needs on an award-winning basis.”

Martin added: “Any departure from the current configuration of hospitals would add to the capacity of the market, making it difficult to maintain an efficient operation.”

A letter to the editor, written by EMH board member Kevin Flanigan and appearing in Tuesday’s paper, urged CHP officials to re-evaluate their plans to build the hospital.

Flanigan was not available for comment Thursday, but Martin agreed to discuss the letter and CHP’s plans.

“I certainly respect the management team at CHP,” Martin said. “I know they’ll do a thorough job evaluating their options.”

But, Martin added: “They would be hard-pressed if they’re going to operate two hospitals. It’s kind of difficult to stretch resources between two facilities.”

CHP has a primary facility on Kolbe Road in Lorain, though hospital officials have long planned to construct a new facility in Elyria or North Ridgeville. Only recently did they announce plans to develop a chunk of land on Schadden Road that CHP already owns, a location CHP President Mark Nosacka said could work because it sits next to Ireland Cancer Center and could be used for outpatient care.

The proposed CHP hospital, called St. Mary’s Community Hospital, would “expand the cancer diagnostics and treatments that are available to our community,” Nosacka wrote in an e-mail.

Martin said filling a niche market or creating a special treatment facility is difficult, because it flies in the face of current industry trends that push for consolidated facilities and eliminating fixed costs.

“Hospitals are in excess capacity in our county now,” Martin said, adding that most investors who might consider funding the CHP project would probably research the issue beforehand and “raise their eyebrows if they recognized there was an excess capacity and no need for a new hospital.”

Martin said he suspected Flanigan was appealing to the community as a whole when he urged for scrutiny of CHP’s plans, but added that Flanigan’s message likely was directed toward project investors, too.

“Do our residents really want another hospital, or just high-quality care close to their homes — which is being already being offered,” Martin said.

Elyria Mayor Bill Grace decided to stay out of the fray and said commenting on whether or not the medical market was oversaturated was not his area of expertise.

CHP spokesman Patrick Crowley stressed that plans aren’t solidified.

“We have to continue with studies … to see what makes sense for the region,” Crowley said. “We always have to look at it as: ‘Is it a duplication of services?’ ”

Both CHP and EMH must maintain a good relationship, since both hospitals share the same concerns, Crowley said. 

Martin agreed, but added: “At this point, this isn’t one we’re working on together.”

Contact Shawn Foucher at 653-6255 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.