Raleigh, N.C. — WakeMed said Wednesday that it would close skilled nursing operations in Fuquay-Varina and eastern Wake County as the hospital system tries to adjust to the changing health care market.
The Zebulon/Wendell Outpatient & Skilled Nursing Facility offers short-stay skilled nursing care, with an average length of stay of 30 days. Skilled nursing patients will stop being admitted on Thursday, and current patients will be discharged after their course of care is complete, officials said. The facility’s outpatient lab and imaging services will also close, while outpatient rehabilitation and leased physician office space will remain open.
The Fuquay-Varina Outpatient & Skilled Nursing Facility offers longer-term skilled nursing care for patients with chronic health problems. WakeMed case managers will work with patients to find an appropriate facility to care for their individual needs by Sept. 30. The facility’s outpatient rehabilitation practice will also close, and patients will be redirected to the WakeMed Outpatient Rehab service operated at Kraft YMCA in Apex.
“These changes came after much thoughtful consideration about how WakeMed’s resources could best be allocated,” WakeMed President and Chief Executive Dr. Bill Atkinson said in an email to employees. “This is a time of significant change in health care, and we have a responsibility to ensure everything we do supports WakeMed’s ability to provide access to quality care at a reasonable cost.”
WakeMed officials noted that the hospital system will receive $23.6 million less in fiscal year 2014 because of new state and federal regulations and changes to reimbursement rates.
“We established skilled nursing services at these facilities over 20 years ago to address a shortage of skilled nursing care in our community," Atkinson said. "Over the years, changes in Medicare rules have spurred the addition of many skilled nursing facilities in our community, many of which are larger and better able meet the growing demand for long-term care while also offering more services for the benefit of patients."
Elaine Rohlik, WakeMed's executive director of rehab and trauma services, said the two facilities have always operated at a loss.
"We have always lost money in the tens of millions, and it has gotten worse over time," she said. "(With) these other financial cuts to the healthcare environment and the healthcare reimbursement structure right now, we can no longer afford to sustain those kinds of losses."
The closures will affect 99 full- and part-time employees, and WakeMed officials said they are working to find them other jobs.
WakeMed also will eliminate 14 jobs in its translation services department by outsourcing such services to InDemand Interpreting, which provides computer-based interpretation services in 180 languages to hospitals throughout the country.