As hospital finances continue to weather the storm of increased labor and operating expenses, some have begun to take a hard look at services they can no longer afford to offer.
Several hospitals and health systems have cut services to stay afloat during economic uncertainty.
St. Mark's Medical Center in La Grange, Texas, is cutting nearly half its staff and various services due to financial struggles. The services cut include inpatient and surgical services, post-acute skilled rehab care, its orthopedic clinic, speech therapy and ambulatory care.
Sunnyside, Wash.-based Astria Health no longer offers certain cardiology services, including invasive and interventional cardiology, due to staffing issues and rising labor costs.
The void these closures have created could be filled by ASCs. Because orthopedics is a booming specialty for surgery centers, the blow from the closure of St. Mark's Medical Center orthopedic clinic could be softened if those procedures were shifted to a nearby surgery center. As for Astria Health's diminishing cardiology services, several industry leaders have pointed to cardiology as an upcoming specialty in the ASC space.
However, surgery centers that take on this case volume should examine how it could affect the center as a whole.
"While some patient volumes are shifting to ASCs, the practice owners need to be able to handle this increase in volume and the case complexities, as well as the rising staffing costs," Ali Ekbatani, DO, senior vice president of client services at North American Partners in Anesthesia, told Becker's. "ASCs will need all the help they can get to deliver quality care to their patients and, at the same time, drive operational efficiencies. The patient experience can be potentially at risk if ASCs do not plan for this surge."
The caseload coming from hospitals closing services can quickly become a burden to ASCs.
"We are finding that our local ASCs are being flooded with cases that were previously being done in hospitals," Jitander Dudee, MD, owner of Medical Vision Institute in Lexington, Ky., told Becker's. "Combined with the backlog of deferred cases from the pandemic, this is making it difficult to schedule cases like cataract surgery, which were previously staples for ASCs. So there seems to be an undersupply of facilities for elective cases and difficulties in scheduling emergencies."