Schneider Regional Medical Center announced this week it is making changes to services with the goal of increasing efficiency and attaining greater financial solvency.
The first change is a suspension of all elective knee and hip implant surgeries.
The second change is a new emergency room “fast track” for patients with non-life-threatening emergencies.
The decision to temporarily discontinue knee and hip implant surgeries was made for financial reasons alone. According to hospital officials, the funding of elective surgical implant programs is a problem across the U.S.
The cost of procuring hip and knee devices has increased significantly while reimbursements have decreased, they said. In some cases, a hospital can lose almost $10,000 on a single procedure.
“This decision is not one that was made lightly,” SRMC Chief Executive Officer Bernard Wheatley said in a press release Wednesday. “Our hospital is struggling financially and we need to reduce or eliminate some services that take us further into debt.”
The medical center faces costs of more than $20 million in uncompensated care each fiscal year.
Schneider’s chief medical officer, Dr. Luis Amaro, said the decision ultimately comes down to a choice between providing life-saving care or elective surgeries.
“We choose to provide the highest quality of care we can to those whose lives depend on it,” he said.
A press release issued Tuesday announced that SRMC has also begun a new “fast track” program to allow for swifter emergency room care. The hospital’s emergency room has already begun seeing patients with minor emergencies in its “fast track” area from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
The fast track is not a walk-in clinic, but rather an expansion of the hospital’s emergency department designed to care for less-critical emergencies. The medical center’s press release said the hospital has identified and reassigned a highly qualified staff member to the program and has begun a recruitment process for additional nurses, physicians and physicians’ assistants.
On days when the needs of patients in the hospital and the emergency department are more severe, the fast track area may be temporarily closed.
Schneider Regional will continue to expand its emergency room fast track hours and will share updates about the program with the public as they occur.