It looks as though major expansion plans by all three Rochester-area hospitals may have to go back to the drawing board. A long-anticipated report on exactly how many hospital beds Monroe County needs was released Thursday.
The Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency (FLHSA) says Monroe County
Only needs 83 to 147 beds by the year 2015 and it is predicting a 10% drop in the amount of time patients will actually spend in the hospital. The number of beds is actually far lower than area hospitals were planning on.
“The question wasn't whether we need more beds, the question was actually how many beds do we need?” says Nancy Adams, executive director of the Monroe County Medical Society. Adams chaired the FLHSA taskforce on bed recommendations.
The long-awaited report examined how quickly patients were discharged from the hospitals, how full each was on a regular basis and how long patients stayed.
“We want to do thoughtful planning in the future and that's what this is about,” says Fran Weisberg, executive director of FLHSA.
Strong Memorial Hospital, Unity Hospital and Rochester General Hospital have all released multi-million dollar plans for expansion. Strong and Unity are asking for 151 more beds than are being recommended in the report. The agency says it went with a more conservative number of beds for a reason.
“What we don't want to do is be in a position where we have overcapacity, where we've added additional cost to the system that we don't need,” says Weisberg.
The goal, according to Weisberg, is not to repeat a situation like the former Genesee Hospital which closed because it was under-used.
“If we have too little, you have a health care system that doesn't work and if you have too much, you have a health care system that you can't afford.”
However, Strong and Unity Hospital both say the new bed recommendations from the Finger Lakes Health Systems agency are short-sighted for the year 2015 because they do not take into account the aging population of Monroe County, which utilizes much of the patient bed space.
“We felt it was based on unrealistic assumptions,” says Dr. Bradford Berk, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center.
“We were deeply disappointed, we think that they're off by at least 30-percent,” says Tim McCormick, CEO of Unity Hospital, “to sit here and look at the problems we're facing in terms of potential demand for hospital service. and not try to maximize the number of beds...it really just strikes me as being crazy.”
Hospitals say the biggest error in this report has to do with length of stay. The number 83 to 147 beds was actually based on reducing the length of stay in the hospitals by 10% something hospitals say can't be done by 2015.
“We will not achieve a 10-percent length of stay reduction, in the last two years in fact we seen a length of stay increase,” says Dr. Berk.
Strong and Unity Hospital plan to appeal the report's recommendations taking their case all the way to New York State if need be.
“We present a strong case with the Department of Health as we did for the Certificate of Need,” says Dr. Berk.