Friday, July 14, 2000

Dayton's oldest hospital closing

1,300 workers at Franciscan to lose jobs

By James Hannah
The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio — Franciscan Medical Center, the city's oldest hospital, will close within two months for financial reasons, putting 1,300 full-time hospital employees out of work, hospital officials announced Thursday.

        Acting hospital president Jim Grobmyer said a decline in the number of patients at Franciscan, combined with excess medical capacity in the area, led to the decision.

        “It is a sad day indeed, but a necessary decision that had to be reached,” said Mr. Grobmyer.

        About 160 patients are in the hospital on any given day. Hospital officials say at least 200 patients daily are needed for the hospital to remain viable.

        Mr. Grobmyer said Franciscan, which is owned by the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor as the Franciscan Health System of the Ohio Valley, is about $44 million in debt.

        He said the owners tried to find a buyer for the hospital in hopes of infusing new capital into the operation, but were unsuccessful. Franciscan had been in negotiations with Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanguard Health Systems.

        Mr. Grobmyer said operations at Franciscan will be phased out and the building probably will be sold. He said patients will be transferred to other hospitals and the hospital will do everything it can to see that employees find other jobs.

        “We're in a very tight labor market,” he said. “I think all of our employees have a real opportunity to find comparable jobs at the other hospitals and with other health-care providers.”

        Franciscan has been operating for 124 years.

        “We have seen a rash of hospital closings over the past 10 or 15 years, but that doesn't make it any easier on the Dayton community,” said Joe Krella, president of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association. “We're losing a valuable community resource.”

        Mr. Krella said other hospitals in the area will be able to absorb the patients and that demand in the area for health-care workers is strong.

        “There are a number of areas that have shortages, particularly nursing,” he said.

        Mr. Grobmyer said he told hospital managers Thursday morning about the closing.

        “It was very emotional. It was very difficult,” he said. “But our people responded in a very professional manner.”


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