Saint Clare’s Health System (Saint Clare’s) filed a Certificate of Need (CON) application with the state of New Jersey to transform its Sussex hospital to an outpatient surgical, diagnostic and treatment facility including an emergency department.
In its CON application, Saint Clare’s proposed to discontinue inpatient medical and inpatient surgical services at Saint Clare’s-Sussex Hospital. The CON review process is expected to take six months to complete.
Saint Clare’s Board of Directors and leadership along with Catholic Health Initiatives undertook a comprehensive evaluation and a period of discernment to determine that the Sussex hospital’s role needed to change for it to continue to serve the health care needs of the Sussex community. As part of the evaluation and discernment process, Saint Clare’s commissioned two independent studies. Each study concluded that Sussex County residents would not be adversely affected as a result of discontinuing inpatient services.
While a number of options were considered, including the closure of the hospital, it was decided that maintaining certain services at Saint Clare’s-Sussex Hospital, especially emergency care, was important to assure continued access to vital health care services for the Sussex community.
“Not just here in New Jersey but across the country, health care is undergoing rapid change and hospitals are evaluating what measures are required to assure long-term success,” said Leslie D. Hirsch, FACHE, president and CEO of Saint Clare’s. “When faced with sustained declining demand for inpatient care at Saint Clare’s-Sussex Hospital, we deliberated carefully and thoughtfully on the right decision for the Sussex community. Although we cannot sustain the status quo at Sussex, we remain committed to providing health care services that the community needs most, particularly emergency care.”
Consistent with declining trends in inpatient admissions across the hospital industry nationally and in New Jersey, fewer Sussex residents have been admitted to Saint Clare’s-Sussex Hospital over the past several years. This facility is the smallest, least-utilized hospital in the state of New Jersey caring for on average 12 inpatients daily in a facility that is licensed for more than 100 beds. Total inpatient admissions have decreased by 21 percent from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2011.
“What’s important is that the community has access to the services that they rely on us to provide,” said Saint Clare’s Board Chairman Dr. Edward McManus. “While closure was considered because of the financial savings, we are committed to serving the Sussex community. This plan—while different from the current configuration—delivers on that commitment.”
In addition to maintaining a full service emergency department at Saint Clare’s-Sussex Hospital, the facility will also continue to operate the Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) program. Saint Clare’s continues to be designated by the state of New Jersey as the exclusive provider for Sussex County of pre-hospital Advanced Life Support (ALS) services via its MICU program that is staffed by highly trained paramedics. Additionally, to supplement the network of volunteer ambulance squads in Sussex County, Saint Clare’s will also continue to provide Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance services staffed by experienced emergency medical technicians.
Pending the state’s approval of the CON, Saint Clare’s-Sussex Hospital will continue to provide a number of services including:
- Emergency services
- Women’s Health Center
- Same day surgery
- Endoscopy and minor procedures
- Diagnostic imaging including CT scan and mammography
- Peripheral vascular and bone densitometry
- Respiratory therapy
- Laboratory and blood bank services
- Pharmacy support
Sussex patients will continue to have access to their medical records as they do now. Medical records will be retained at the Sussex campus.
Of the 167 employees who currently work at the hospital, 55 full-time, part-time and per diem employees are expected to be affected by the change in services. These employees will receive priority placement for open positions at Saint Clare’s other facilities. They will be provided two months’ advance notice of position eliminations or changes. Employees will also be offered severance based on Saint Clare’s policy as well as outplacement support.
Saint Clare’s Health System, which has served the health care needs of northwestern New Jersey residents since 1895, is the region’s premier provider of community-based health care and behavioral health services. Saint Clare’s operates hospitals in Boonton Township, Denville, Dover and Sussex Borough and other facilities located throughout Morris and Sussex counties.
Saint Clare’s is part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), a national nonprofit health organization with headquarters in Englewood, Colorado. The faith-based system operates in 19 states and includes 73 hospitals; 40 long-term care, assisted- and residential-living facilities; two community health-services organizations; and home health agencies.