CCH CEO to county: OB closure financial move

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 25, 2013

More than a month after the announcement that Crenshaw Community Hospital would discontinue OB services, the county commission heard from the hospital administration at Monday’s meeting.

Hospital CEO Brad Eiseman told the commission that closing OB services was “not an easy decision.”

“We had extensive discussions with the OB physician and medical staff,” he said. “We presented the information to the hospital board. I talked to them severe times, and told them we would announce it when the time was right. I brought it multiple times to the board.”

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Board vice chairman Allen Sexton, who has voiced his opposition to the closure, said he did not feel the board had time to digest what it was told.

Eiseman told Sexton they could debate it at the next hospital authority meeting.

“I want to get this out in the public,” Sexton said. “As a board member, I will stand up publicly or at a board meeting and say I don’t think we are getting the best services.”

Eiseman said he and Dr. Charles Tompkins, who has served as the hospital’s OB physician, agreed the July 4 date would work.

“Anything said otherwise is not right,” he said. “It was not sneaky or under the radar and those comments are disrespectful.”

Eiseman told the commission that discontinuation of OB services is happening all over the nation.

“Google hospitals closing OB,” he said. “It’s happening everywhere.”

Eiseman explained to the commission that in order to provide OB services, the hospital has to staff the department 24/7 with specialized medical staff, and that he would not share staff across departments.

If a woman enters the hospital in labor, he said they could contact Baptist.

“We will do just like they do out of Troy, Greenville and Opp,” he said. “We’ll transport them by ambulance.”

Eiseman cited financial cuts from sequestration – 2 percent – and additional cuts from the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, as the primary reasons for cutting the service.

“Financial pressures on rural hospitals are tougher than ever,” he said.

Eiseman said there has been a nearly 30 percent decrease in the number of deliveries made at CCH since 2009. Last year, there were 108 babies delivered at the hospital.

Eiseman said 300-plus babies must be delivered in order for the hospital to make a profit.

Additionally, Eiseman told the commission that only 30 percent of the babies born here are from Crenshaw County.

Eiseman also noted that almost all of the OB patients at CCH are Medicaid patients.

“A lot of folks are not fortunate enough to be able to drive the distance,” Commissioner Michelle Stephens said.

Additionally, Dr. Cathy Murphy voiced her concerns about the OB issue and the state’s new Medicaid restructure.

“What kind of hospital doesn’t deliver babies,” she asked. “I have a complaint. We have an elected group who appoints a board who contracts with a corporation. There is no accountability. We are on the wrong road.”

Murphy described the public-private partnership as fascism.

“We are on the wrong road,” she said. “That dog won’t hunt. If the county owns the hospital, it should be in charge.”

Murphy told the commission they needed to get control back of the hospital, instead of having a corporation run it.

“It’s about the people,” she said. “What is your vision in 20 years?”