Recently, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a man who, upon my introduction as Interim CEO at Springfield Hospital, advised me he heard Springfield Hospital is closing. His comment raised my awareness that the recent negative publicity around Springfield Hospital’s financial challenges has led some, and perhaps many, to believe that our local community hospital is closing.
Of course, there was no delay in clarifying. Springfield Hospital is not closing. It is true that, like many rural hospitals across the nation, we are facing serious financial challenges. On June 26, 2019 we filed Chapter 11 – Reorganization with the bankruptcy court to allow us time to assess our service line, utilization and cash flow strategies and to develop a plan to maintain local access to needed healthcare services into the future.
We are in the process of completing that analysis now. Discussions with Mt. Ascutney Hospital, Valley Regional Hospital and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center are taking place. We are carefully reassessing the healthcare needs of the region and working collaboratively to establish the most efficient and effective way to meet the needs of the communities we serve.
As you likely know, in April of this year, we implemented a new staffing model in our Emergency Department and began providing on-site, round-the-clock physician coverage. Other new progress at Springfield Hospital includes opening our newly-renovated Urology Suite on Level D. In addition, effective October 1st, we opened a new Gynecology Suite, adjacent to our Mammography Department also on Level D, which is staffed by three board-certified physicians and offers convenient access to gynecology services for women in our region.
In July, a thorough audit from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) resulted in an excellent review for Springfield Hospital and The Windham Center for Psychiatric Care in Bellows Falls. During the exit interview, the audit team shared positive feedback about the skill and enthusiasm of our staff, as well as the quality of the services we are providing. In September, an unannounced, on-site audit of our Nuclear Medicine Program from the U.S. National Regulatory Commission and State of Vermont staff included an inspection of our equipment, documentation and personal oversight of patient care. Again, we received an excellent review with zero deficiencies. Our dietary services also received exemplary scores for cleanliness and food preparation services at the hospital and The Windham Center during their September inspection by the Vermont Department of Health.
All of these events provide testimony to the quality of care and the commitment of our 702 health system employees who do their best to keep you healthy, and to be here if you need them. Essential to the future success of Springfield Hospital is strong community support. While we saw a drop in utilization earlier this year, which many times is indicative of the summer season, we are now seeing increased utilization and public confidence shown as patients are choosing Springfield Hospital and the SMCS health centers for their care.
I’ll close by confirming that Springfield Hospital is open for business, and ready to meet your needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We thank you for your continued support, and for the honor and privilege of being of service to our local communities.
Michael J. Halstead, Interim Chief Executive Officer