Harrison Medical Center is considering closing its inpatient hospital services in Bremerton and moving them to nearby Silverdale, officials from Harrison and Franciscan Health System announced Friday.
In announcing the potential move, hospital leaders pointed to the need to cut costs, and singled out changes in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, an aging population and requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which is driving greater efficiency.
For the first time in history, said Franciscan Spokesman Scott Thompson, Harrison received more revenue from outpatient services than from hospitalizations.
The plan, if approved by the hospital’s board in October, would move inpatient services to a new facility built on the medical center’s Silverdale campus, which was opened in 2000, and keep some outpatient services in Bremerton.
Last fall’s affiliation with Franciscan Health System, part of Catholic Health Initiatives, has given access to cash for the move, and Harrison President and CEO Scott Bosch said it has prompted a revisiting of the hospital’s “Vision 2020” planning process.
Inpatient care has long been the money-maker for most medical centers, but Harrison Board Chairman Jim Civilla, in a statement, said the role of hospitals is changing, “with greater focus on treating the whole person through preventative care and disease management.”
Harrison is committed to providing medical services to Bremerton, he said, but the hospital must explore what’s best for the whole region. “Harrison is going to have to change the way we deliver services,” he said.
Harrison was founded in 1918 and has been in Bremerton since 1965. The hospital itself has outdated infrastructure and lack of space for expansion, hospital leaders said. In addition, Thompson noted, there is much duplication — two emergency departments, two radiology departments, and duplicate laboratories. In addition, the hospital often must transport patients between the two campuses.
Last year, the hospital opened its Orthopaedic Center on its Silverdale campus, and a medical center on Bainbridge is scheduled to open this fall. Hospital leaders said population and local industry have been shifting away from Bremerton to other areas of the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas.
Some Bremerton leaders don’t seem happy about the loss of an inpatient hospital in that city, according to the Kitsap Sun. Bremerton is a larger city, but statistically, households in Silverdale are more affluent.
Harrison’s Bremerton hospital seems busy enough: Friday night around 7 p.m., the “wait time” ticker listed a 146-minute wait for its emergency room in Bremerton, with “no wait” at its ER in Silverdale.
Over the next few months, Harrison leaders say they’ll seek reactions from various key constituencies, including the City of Bremerton, community and business leaders, residents, medical staff and employees. They plan to announce a final master facility plan in October.