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Official: JHS is not closing

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But a physician says KentuckyOne is providing no help to patients affected by cost-cutting measures

By Todd Martin

Jewish Hospital Shelbyville will not be closing, CEO Michael Collins said in a written statement late Thursday afternoon.

KentuckyOne is mired in system-wide cost-cutting measures that have resulted in layoffs across its 30 institutions, but Collins ended any speculation that those cuts would include closing its facility in Shelbyville.

“First, let me share that Jewish Hospital Shelbyville is not closing. Louisville news stories indicating that KentuckyOne Health was considering closing our Shelbyville facility were inaccurate,” he said. “We are in the process of closing our Wound Healing Center, and we have changed the designation of Critical Care to a Transitional Care Unit. Essentially, the hospital will no longer care for complex ventilator cases.”

Instead, the company is closing the emergency room at the Medical Center Jewish Northeast, located off Old Henry Road in Louisville near the Gene Snyder Freeway.

Effective April 1 at 7 a.m., Jewish Northeast will offer services from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and is recommending those with emergency needs be directed to Norton Brownsboro Hospital, Jewish East Medical Center and Jewish Hospital Shelbyville.

According to a release, MCJNE representatives have contacted officials responsible for emergency transport and public safety about the planned closure of the emergency room. Additionally, MCJNE will conduct a community outreach effort to notify area residents and former patients about the closure and provide information about nearby 24/7 emergency care through advertising, signage, and direct mail.

Barbara Mackovic, senior manager of media relations, said that more details of the layoffs and other changes could be released as early as today as KentuckyOne Health addresses a nearly $220 million deficit.

The system was formed in 2012 when Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare of Louisville and Lexington’s St. Joseph Health System merged under the umbrella of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI). The system includes hospitals through the Louisville and Lexington areas and is in partnership with the University of Louisville Hospital.

Sources confirmed earlier this week that JHS had undergone a round of layoffs as part of the cost-cutting. Mackovic offered no specific details about those cuts.

But one doctor said some of the changes he has seen, specifically with the Wound Healing Center, are a detriment to the work being done in the health-care community.

“This is a travesty of medical care,” said Dr. Rod McMillin, the president and CEO of Louisville Wound Care Associates. “This is just another example of corporate America screwing the little guy under the guise of deficits. It’s just not right to offer a service one day and then take it away the next.”

McMillin said he is not only upset with KentuckyOne Health’s decision to cut staff system-wide  but even more so with the devil-may-care attitude with which it’s being done.

With the closing of the Wound Healing Center in Shelbyville, McMillin said, three full-time nurse and receptionist along with a part-time nurse have been let go.

“They’re closing the doors on March 7. Now I have two clinics [days] to tell all my patients that they’ll have to go somewhere else,” he said. “The worst thing is, if this happened in Louisville, if they closed my St. Matthews office, I could just have the patients go to Norton Hospital, which is like five miles away.

“But in Shelbyville there isn’t anywhere else to go. The closest place to go is Frankfort. But still that’s about twenty miles. After that, the next closest place is Brownsboro Crossing, and that’s more than twenty-five miles.”

McMillin said he plans to discuss these issues with a lawyer to help his less-fortunate patients with a class-action lawsuit, if it’s possible.

Mackovic said she could not discuss specifics about changes in Shelbyville.

But McMillin said he has spoken with CEO Michael Collins.

“He told me they had not made any provisions for patients to go somewhere else, and that it would be fine to tell them to go to a Norton’s [Hospital] location,” McMillin said. “How many times have you heard a business tell someone to go to a competitor? That sounds like they just don’t care to me.”

McMillin said he believes more than 20 people were let go in Shelbyville, and this could just be the beginning.

“I know there are other doctors that are worried about the patients have the proper care there after surgery and if they’ll be able to do surgery there now,” he said. “The only thing I’ve heard is that they may be trying to change it to an outpatient facility.”

That would fit with the transition the hospital is making by changing the critical care unit into a transitional care unit, which would stabilize patients to transfer them to other facilities instead of having care done at JHS.

“In a letter I received from Collins it says they’re cutting services, but that the facility’s main focus is still patient care,” McMillin said.

“What a joke. From the looks of these cuts and the way there’re handling it, I’d say the last thing they’re focused on is patient care.”