When RegionalCare took over, the hospital had 760 employees, he said. Today, the hospital has 675 employees.
Also in the last three years, 31 physicians and mid-level providers have been recruited and 10 have left.
Not all of those who left were laid off, though, he said. Some retired and some resigned.
“The reason we have less employees is because we’re getting paid less to provide care,” he said. “When sequestration came and with Medicare and Medicaid cuts, reimbursement is declining. Yeah, we have fewer staff, but there again we’re getting paid less money to take care of sicker people.”
When RegionalCare purchased the hospital, he said, the country was in the throes of an economic recession.
“People had less health insurance or no health insurance, so they were waiting or not receiving the care they should seek, so when they came to the ER they were sicker,” he said. “At the same time, we were paid less money, so there’s inherent pressures on hospitals, on all health care providers, really.”
Ottumwa alone in for-profit status
ORHC is the only for-profit hospital in Iowa, said Iowa Hospital Association senior vice president Perry Meyer. Historically, for-profit hospitals have not been popular in the state. Years ago, Des Moines General Hospital and Davenport Osteopathic Hospital were acquired by other facilities and became not-for-profit.
But nationally, 20 percent of all hospitals are for-profit, he said, “so Iowa is just an exception.”
“Iowa really doesn’t have much history with for-profit hospitals,” he said. “Maybe it’s because the population of the state is not as big, so it tends not to draw as much interest.”
Another barrier to for-profits moving in could be Iowa’s “Certificate of Need” law. If a company outside Iowa wants to move in to build a hospital, it must weave through a rigorous process to gain approval.