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Ozarks Community Hospital Inc. CEO Paul Taylor speaks during SBJ’s 12 People live interview series.
SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton
Ozarks Community Hospital Inc. CEO Paul Taylor speaks during SBJ’s 12 People live interview series.

OCH plans psychiatric hospital at north-side campus

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Following more than a yearlong dispute with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Ozarks Community Hospital Inc. is planning to reopen its main north-side Springfield facility as a psychiatric hospital.

Health system CEO Paul Taylor, who previously hinted at the possibility of a psychiatric hospital, made it official this morning during Springfield Business Journal’s 12 People You Need to Know live interview series.

“Before, say, June of next year, we will be open and we will be back in the hospital business, but it’ll be psych,” Taylor said. “Truly, the community doesn’t need us to get back into the acute care medical hospital business.

“In fact, Mercy and Cox both have more beds than they need.”

Taylor said OCH has the capacity and certificate of need secured for a 45-bed psych hospital, though it may initially open with around 30 beds in the spring or early summer.

The plans come after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services terminated OCH’s Medicare agreement, leading to the July 2016 partial closure of the 2828 N. National Ave. hospital and 200 layoffs. The hospital shut down inpatient services, as well as its surgery and emergency departments.

Led by Taylor, OCH appealed the decision but dismissed it in September, days after the CMS revised its definition of a hospital. The CMS clarified hospitals must have two patients that stay the night, on average. CMS also now compares the number of inpatient beds to the number of operating rooms, emergency department bays, surgery outpatient beds and overnight nurses.

This morning, Taylor said the clarification changes by the CMS were good for the industry at large, but don’t allow OCH to recover financially from last year’s reduction in services.
 
“I would rather have the people back and the millions of dollars back,” he said, referencing lost revenue without Medicare reimbursements.

OCH, which operates a for-profit model, a rarity in the industry, continues to operate its Gravette, Arkansas, hospital with a 25-bed inpatient floor and a 24-hour emergency room, as well as more than 20 clinics in three states. Taylor said the Arkansas hospital is at capacity, and hospital officials are looking at expansion plans.

Taylor said OCH is mulling the switch to a nonprofit model, but that interest is slow-going given the restrictions placed on a not-for-profit.

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