The Norman Transcript

October 30, 2013

Challenges to health care


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Two news stories in the past two days look at the challenges facing Oklahoma hospitals.

Moore Medical Center, destroyed by the tornado, will be rebuilt based on the changing nature of health care delivery. Officials announced this week that the five-story, $28.8 million facility will not contain in-patient beds, at least not initially.

Demand for in-patient services has declined. No hospital would build the same facility today that they built 20 years ago. The demands for efficiency requires administrators to think strategically.

Earlier in the week, Oklahoma Watch profiled the struggles of rural hospitals, including Pauls Valley, which filed for bankruptcy this year. The reporting team found that between 2009 and 2012, between half and three fourths of general hospitals with fewer than 100 beds lost money.

Small, non-specialty hospitals struggle with declining patient census, a slow economy and industry changes. Gov. Mary Fallin’s decision to not expand Medicaid in Oklahoma will severely impact already struggling hospitals.

Those individuals who could have qualified for expanded Medicaid coverage still will get sick and need care at hospitals, a cost that is shifted to paying customers and absorbed by the hospital itself.