Baptist Hospital to end in-patient services downtown

KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- When Baptist Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center merged to become one named Mercy Health Partners on January 1st, many anticipated how patient care would change.

Few would anticipate how much, or how soon.

Effective August 1st, Baptist's downtown campus will no longer perform inpatient services.

Volunteer TV medical reporter Jessa Goddard explains how this change will effect your health care.

Mercy Health Partners hail the transfer of services to Baptist Hospital West, St. Mary's Medical Center and its North location as a major next step. Part of a three to five year plan to build a new state of the art medical center downtown.

"Well, I consider this an expansion," Mercy Health Partners President and CEO Debra London told Volunteer TV News. "I consider this a growth opportunity, just because you're closing a facility does not mean that you're not growing services."

Effective August 1st, Baptist Hospital will discontinue all in-patient services, in other words, any procedure requiring an overnight hospital stay.

At any given time, that's 110 to 120 patients.

Mercy Health Partners officials say they've not yet made a decision regarding outpatient care. They made the announcement official to clinical staff and private physicians just Tuesday afternoon.

"We're working very closely with our physicians to make certain that the services that they provide to our patients are not interrupted," Mercy Health Partners Senior VP of External Affairs said.

Mercy Health Partners plan to create a transition job center, to match employees' skills with existing positions within the mercy system or develop new skills.

Officials say while they don't anticipate layoffs, they are prepared to offer severance packages.

"Our people may need to be retrained, if we are not able to offer positions for people, then we have a fair and just severance package that we will offer than will certainly assist them," London said at a news conference.

The transfer of services still requires regulatory approval. At that time, Mercy Health Partners will begin the next step, that is determining the size, scope and location of a new hospital in the downtown area.

Mercy Health Partners would not speculate on the location of the new hospital, only to say its current location downtown is one possibility.

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