ST. PAUL, Minn. — M Health Fairview will dramatically reduce operations at Bethesda Rehabilitation Hospital near downtown St. Paul, eliminating more than half of the 114 patient beds at the long-term care facility in coming months.
By early 2020, layoffs and staff reductions throughout Fairview’s 10-hospital network will drop about 340 employees from its workforce, though some workers will be shifted into open positions.
Officials with the Minneapolis-based nonprofit health care system confirmed the cuts on Friday in a statement to the media.
The statement refers to a recent five-week budgeting and long-term planning effort that roped in Fairview executives, University of Minnesota Physicians and other partners at the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview.
M Health Fairview, officially launched in October, is a joint clinical agreement among University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Physicians, and Fairview Health Services.
“Healthcare is facing an affordability crisis and requires transformation,” reads the statement. “Fairview initiated a comprehensive planning effort with a vision to transform care delivery for our patients and finalized a number of decisions.”
Bethesda is licensed for up to 250 patient beds but actually maintains 114 beds — or up to one patient per room — according to data from the Minnesota Department of Health.
The rehab hospital is currently staffed, however, for 89 beds.
After staff reductions in the next few months, Bethesda will serve 50 patient beds.
“We are committed to having long-term acute care for the patients in our system, and any patients already in our care at Bethesda will not be discharged until medically ready,” reads the statement from Fairview. “This change reflects the realities of the current reimbursement system and the necessity to prioritize our patients’ needs.”
In addition, Fairview will shift most of the operations from three sleep study or sleep clinic locations in Eagan, Maplewood and Chisago City to nearby facilities, and close two retail pharmacies in Eden Prairie and Brooklyn Park.
The written statement makes no specific mention of the fate of St. Joseph’s Hospital, a 400-bed facility in downtown St. Paul.
The likelihood of deep cuts and even closure within the next three years has loomed large enough to alarm physicians, who have started a social media campaign to keep the hospital open under the hashtag #StJoesServesStPaul.
In an interview on Thursday, Fairview CEO and President James Hereford said no final decisions about St. Joe’s had been made by Fairview’s 19-member board of directors, and an outreach process to community leaders would begin shortly before or after the holidays.
Fairview, which acquired St. Joseph’s parent company HealthEast in 2017, currently has more than 34,000 employees, including 5,000 medical providers.