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AACH Intensive Care Unit to close later this year

Low patient volumes and staffing shortages prompted the move.

AACH

Like health systems across the country, Asante is experiencing challenges and strains on its resources due to the lingering effects of the pandemic. Even so, the past two years also have presented the organization with opportunities to become more innovative and efficient.

Asante’s Board of Directors, executive team and leadership are identifying short- and long-term changes that will help our organization be more efficient. Through this process, the decision was made to close the Intensive Care Unit at Asante Ashland by the end of this year.

“Closing a unit of the hospital is never an easy decision,” said Jamie Grebosky, MD, Asante chief medical officer. “We understand how this impacts our employees, our patients and the community. However, as we move forward from the pandemic, we need to optimize our health system’s critical resources.”

The decision was based on several factors, including the difficulty to recruit and retain nurses and eliminate contract labor; an annual ICU operating loss of $1.5 million; and low patient volumes making it difficult for nurses to maintain their required competency levels for the highest-acuity patients.

“Like many rural hospitals across the country, our health system is struggling to recruit nurses despite ongoing efforts,” said Amanda Kotler, Asante chief nursing officer. “Closing Ashland’s ICU will allow Asante to deploy valuable staff members to other departments.”

Leaders are developing a plan and pulling together resources that will allow staff to evaluate and stabilize step-down intermediate care patients. Before the closure, a plan will be in place to transfer patients who require intensive care from Ashland to our Medford or Grants Pass hospitals.

“Over the past few years, our three hospitals have developed a close partnership to balance volumes for ICU and non-ICU patients,” Kotler said. “Our transfer teams have developed a process that’s efficient and safe for our patients.”

The plan is to close the four-bed ICU by Dec. 31; however, it could be sooner depending on staffing, patient volumes, and operational measures now being finalized. Ashland ICU employees have the opportunity to transition into other positions within the health system.

“During the pandemic, Ashland’s ICU team played a crucial role in the care of patients with COVID-19,” said Steven Hersch, MD, vice president of Medical Affairs and administrator at Ashland. “Their contribution to the community has been invaluable and we are incredibly grateful for the team’s care of our patients.”

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