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Lakes Region General Hospital to close clinics, maternity

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader

February 13. 2018 9:21PM




LACONIA — The LRGHealthcare board of directors voted Monday to close inpatient labor and delivery services at Lakes Region General Hospital, effective May 30, and shutter several clinics.

It will also lay off 16 workers as a result of the elimination of administrative positions and program restructuring.

In a news release, LRGH communications associate Sarah DeCormier said LRG­Healthcare is working with Concord Hospital to maintain delivery services to the local community and will continue to provide prenatal, postnatal, women’s health and pediatric care through local network providers.

“Maternity care and delivering babies is one of the most rewarding things we do as a health care organization,” said Kevin W. Donovan, president and CEO of LRGHealthcare, “so this was an extremely difficult decision for everyone. However, to ensure the quality of care for our patients and address financial concerns associated with those services, it was a decision that we felt was right and ultimately inevitable.”

Donovan said the number of deliveries at Lakes Region General Hospital has declined annually over the past several years, and the decline is expected to continue.

Donovan said the hospital had 346 deliveries in 2015, 318 in 2016 and 283 in 2017.

“Working closely with LRGHealthcare, Concord Hospital looks forward to welcoming Lakes Region moms to our Family Place birthing unit,” said Robert Steigmeyer, Concord Hospital president and CEO, in a statement. “Our organizations have a nearly 20-year history of collaborating to provide care for Lakes Region residents, including cardiac care and oncology services. Together, we will address needs and work to assure quality and continuity of care for new mothers and mothers-to-be.”

According to DeCormier, LRGHealthcare will continue to provide emergency delivery services through its emergency room.

“This is not a problem only impacting LRGH,” Donovan said in a statement. “It is a problem facing many rural hospitals in New Hampshire and nationally.

“The continued reduction in the number of deliveries not only presents financial challenges to providing access to the latest technology and ensuring quality care, but also presents challenges for recruiting and retaining physicians who require certain volumes to maintain skills and certification in rural areas.”

Closures, consolidation

In a news release, Donovan said the board’s vote to merge and consolidate several medical facilities and programs within their network was done “to address unexpected financial challenges that have emerged over the last couple of months.”

“The changes being implemented by the board of directors are focused on maintaining patient access to care, as well as their access to their medical providers, and at the same time reducing the cost of maintaining the LRGHealthcare network,” Donovan said in a statement.

“We want our patients to know that the high level of care they expect from LRGHealthcare will continue uninterrupted as we make this transition.”

Brenda Baer, a former city councilor, said recent renovations at the hospital have added to its debt, which has been mounting as the population of Medicaid patients has increased and reimbursements have declined.

“They are in serious financial trouble. I understand that, but I don’t know what the answer is,” Baer said Tuesday.

According to the news release, the changes — aimed at creating $7 million in annual savings — include:

• Moultonborough Family Practice will close effective Friday, March 30. Carolyn Brown, APRN, will join Belknap Family Health–Meredith starting Monday, April 2. Richard Young, APRN will join HealthFirst.

• Newfound Family Practice in Bristol will close effective Friday, March 30. Dr. Peter Doane and Laurie Jorgenson, APRN, will continue to see patients starting April 2 as part of Westside Healthcare at Franklin Regional Hospital.

• Laconia Clinic Pediatrics will also close effective Friday, March 30. According to DeCormier, the Laconia Clinic Board is working with LRGH to determine the future of current providers.

• Franklin Surgical Services and Operating Rooms will close as of Friday, April 27. The closure means all of LRGHealthcare’s surgical services will be performed at Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia and the Hillside Ambulatory Surgery Center in Gilford. Currently, Franklin Surgical Services offers only elective surgery, which will now be performed at remaining LRGH sites.

• Laconia Clinic Lab will be consolidated with the LRGH Lab effective Wednesday, Feb. 28, but a blood draw station will remain at the clinic. All test samples will be sent to LRGH for testing.

Union Leader Correspondent Bea Lewis contributed to this report.


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