Twin City Hospital officials have been less than forthcoming with details surrounding the state of the hospital's finances.
Let me see if I can help.
Twin City Hospital is ... broke.
It's really that simple. The hospital can't pay its bills, one of which was to Canton Aultman Emergency Physicians Group, which staffs the emergency room with doctors. Rumor has it that TCH owed $2 million to the provider.
At some point, vendors, such as the Aultman Emergency Physicians Group, will quit providing services and/or delivering supplies if they don't get paid.
So, last week, it's safe to presume, TCH was put on notice by the provider that it wasn't going to staff the ER anymore unless there was a payment of some kind. So, the hospital, without the benefit of cash flow, announced the ER's closing.
In the meantime, someone in the community bailed out the hospital with presumably a hefty donation of cash.
Some of the comments posted on the local newspaper's website indicate that there is something unique in TCH's predicament. There isn't.
Hospitals across the country are hurting and many are relying on rainy day funds to get by the uncertainty caused by the recession and health reform. TCH, which serves an area that has double the poverty rate of its northern counterpart -- the Dover-New Philadelphia area -- was down for the count before the fight started.
If TCH has 35 ER visits daily, as was reported in the newspaper, how many of those are backed by private insurance? What's your guess here? Half? Less than half?
Certainly, TCH is an important part of the Dennison-Uhrichsville community. And its board members are good people attempting to figure out how to save the place. But the reality is that Twin City Hospital's future probably lies in the strategy of a much larger institution with deeper pockets, such as Aultman Hospital or Cleveland Clinic. (The Clinic's logo is everywhere in Greater Cleveland and is attached to neighborhood hospitals east and west.)
Perhaps a Union Hospital role in the interim is a possibility.
Such an association would be a good thing for TCH. Whether the board can pull it off is another thing.
I hope the Twin City community cuts some slack for members of the hospital board of directors, who signed on to help steer the ship, not keep it from sinking.
Patience, people. This might take some time.