Beginning Jan. 1 of next year, ETMC Gilmer will no longer provide inpatient care, according to East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System officials.
ETMC Gilmer will continue to operate as a 24-hour emergency center providing full-service emergency care and trauma stabilization, as well as laboratory and radiology services. The ETMC First Physicians clinic, located at the hospital, will continue to operate as usual.
"Making this decision was difficult," said Perry Henderson, senior vice president, affiliate operations. "When ETMC came to Gilmer in 1997, the hospital had been closed and boarded up for two years. We take great pride in knowing that we reopened this facility and made healthcare more accessible to the people of Upshur County.
"Unfortunately," Henderson said, "poor utilization and declining reimbursements across the board make providing inpatient care unfeasible."
Henderson noted that hospitalizations for residents of Upshur County totaled more than 4,000 in 2013, but less than 10 percent -- 386 -- were at ETMC Gilmer. "When you average only two to four patients a day, you can't even begin to cover the overhead costs associated with providing quality inpatient care," he said.
This under-utilization combined with declining reimbursement rates, especially from Medicare and Medicaid, led to unsustainable losses at the hospital, prompting the decision, Henderson said. For example, in 2013, Medicaid reimbursed most hospitals less than 50 percent of their Texas Health and Human Services Commission-audited allowed costs for inpatient care, according to the Texas Hospital Association.
"ETMC remains committed to the people of Upshur County and our mission of care," Henderson said. "We tried providing inpatient care for the past 10 years, and despite some of the highest patient satisfaction scores in the nation, filling our beds has been a struggle. So, we are going to return to our roots in this community and refocus our efforts on emergency and primary care. We hope the community will understand our decision and continue to support ETMC Gilmer by utilizing the clinic and emergency department, as well as outpatient lab and imaging services."
Approximately 40 team members will be affected by the phase out. ETMC will provide assistance to these individuals as they seek employment, either with other ETMC facilities or elsewhere.
In addition to the emergency center and physicians clinic, ETMC EMS and ETMC Home Health will continue to serve Upshur County residents.