Louisburg hospital eliminating most inpatient care
Posted October 14, 2014
Louisburg, N.C. — Novant Health officials said Tuesday that the focus of Franklin Medical Center in Louisburg is shifting to outpatient and emergency services.
The hospital stopped accepting inpatients on Tuesday – current patients will be cared for until they are discharged – and has cut the number of its inpatient beds for acute care from 70 to two. It plans to retain another 13 inpatient beds for older patients with dementia or other behavioral problems.
As part of the changes, 59 employees – 29 percent of the hospital's staff – were laid off Tuesday.
"Hospitals in North Carolina and across the nation feel the effects of declining demand for inpatient care combined with reduced payer reimbursement. With the changes occurring in health care, a realignment of our services is necessary to preserve our ability to provide care for our community," Patrick Easterling, Novant's senior vice president for consumer operations, said in a statement. "As we shift our focus to outpatient services, we understand this impacts our staff and patients. We greatly appreciate the support of the community as we move forward with this plan."
Carl Galebach, whose mother-in-law is a patient at Franklin Medical Center, said the hospital is convenient because the family lives nearby, and he doesn't like the prospect of having to go to Wake Forest, Henderson or Rocky Mount for inpatient care in the future.
"That wouldn't be a good idea," Galebach said. "That's not a good plan for me. I would hate it."
Novant spokeswoman Caryn Klebba said 65 of Franklin Medical Center's inpatient beds are empty on an average day, and the hospital is on course to lose $6.1 million this year. So, its business model needs to change, she said.
Franklin Medical Center will maintain its emergency and outpatient services, including surgery, imaging, laboratory, rehabilitation, infusion and the geriatric behavior health unit that opened in 2012. Officials said the hospital is not delicensing any beds or operating rooms and intends to remain a licensed acute care hospital.
Joseph Zigre said he has visited the hospital's emergency room several times and is relieved to know that Franklin Medical Center will continue to be a licensed acute care hospital.
"When you have two small children, they fall, they get hurt, anything can happen," Zigre said. "It's important for us to know that we have someone here in town that'll take care of your family."
Still, he echoed Galebach's concerns about the loss of inpatient care locally.
"If you're sick and you're really sick and you come here and you need to be treated, then they have to move you. That's a concern," he said.