Can anything be done to save what's left of Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital in Saline? Is there another health care provider interested in operating at the building?
(For a history of the Saline Hospital, Click Here. For more on the Auxiliary that supported the hospital, click here.)
Saline City Councilor David Rhoads posed the question at Monday's council meeting.
In December, the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System announced it would convert its emergency room to a 12-hour urgent care center by April. 15 – which will effectively end the facility's 54-year run as Saline's hospital. According to the announcement, the health system may move the urgent care center to a new location in Saline. Additionally, radiology services such as CT scans, vascular, mammography and ultrasound will be consolidated to St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.
Rhoads said he received a call from a resident concerned about the situation.
“The question was asked as to whether or not anything can be done to preserve the remaining services at the hospital and if anyone from the city has made contact with the folks at St. Joe's to determine if there's any possibility,” Rhoads said.
Mayor Brian Marl said he's heard the same concerns. Marl noted that Trinity Health and Saint Joseph Mercy Health Systems gave the city no advance warning before making the announcement. Marl also said that the city and community have had a strong working relationship with the hospital and its staff.
“We do hope they maintain a presence in the community. Many of us understand the economy is improving. As it continues to improve, this area will continue to grow and continue to age, and therefore will require and demand exceptional health care services,” Marl said.
Marl said he's begun efforts to reach out to high level executives at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and Trinity Health in hopes of setting up a meeting and having officials address council with future plans.
Rhoads said he was glad Marl is reaching out and hopes to have dialogue with health system officials.
“I would like to include in that dialogue about future plans what, if anything, can be done to save what's here now,” Rhoads said.
Marl said he's been contacted by other parties interested in the hospital.
“I don't want to make any specific announcements, because that would be improper and inappropriate, but I have been contacted by several entities who see great potential in that facility and in that space,” Marl said. “I do see a desire there to use that facility for some form of health care services.”
Marl said he will keep council abreast of the progress he makes with officials from Saint Jospeph Mercy Health System and Trinity Health.
In December, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System announced it was closing the Saline ER in response to changing health care patterns in the community. Company officials said the conversion to an urgent care facility provides a more cost-effective and appropriate level of care, based on acuity levels seen in the ER.
"These difficult but necessary business decisions are part of our ongoing work to better meet the needs of a changing marketplace so we can sustain our ability to serve the health needs of our communities," said Rob Casalou, president and CEO, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston, who oversees operations at Saline. "We have served the Saline community for the past 50 years and will continue to do so. However, we must be willing to adapt services based on community patterns in order to continue fulfilling our healing mission."