MSHA transferring services from Pavilion to Woodridge

Matthew Lane • Jul 3, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Due to a decline in the volume of inpatients, Mountain States Health Alliance on Friday announced plans to consolidate its two behavioral health services under one roof.

Over the next two months, all inpatient offerings for mental and substance abuse services for MSHA will be consolidated at Woodridge Hospital in Johnson City. The system’s other behavioral health hospital, Indian Path Pavilion in Kingsport, will be converted to other, as of yet undetermined, health care uses.

“We have seen dramatic declines with inpatient volumes at Indian Path Pavilion recently, while Woodridge has also not been operating at capacity,” said Ann Fleming, senior vice president for Mountain States. “This change will allow us to focus our care in a more financially feasible way.

“Woodridge has already been absorbing much of the volume that would have gone to the Pavilion in the past and will be able to handle all our inpatient volume for behavioral health in the future.”

James Watson, MSHA public relations director, said the hospital evaluated the consolidation for about six months and that for the past couple of months has been moving some patients to Woodridge. The consolidation will likely take place in 60 days.

The Pavilion has 114 team members, and efforts will be made to move many of these people to other positions inside Mountain States, which has approximately 9,000 team members throughout the system. There are currently more than 200 open positions inside Mountain States.

Northeast Tennessee is the only region of the state without a government owned and operated mental health facility.

Fleming said keeping two private behavioral health hospitals offering similar services just a few miles apart was no longer a viable option for Mountain States.

A study of behavioral health services has been ongoing inside Mountain States for several months, she said, adding that the evaluation revealed focusing all services at one facility would allow the health care system to continue offering this treatment in the region in a more financially feasible way.

“Unfortunately, as government agencies and employers look to cut costs due to economic constraints, behavioral health is a regular target,” Fleming said. “We began experiencing reductions in reimbursements and coverage last year, which has negatively impacted patient volume. This trend shows no signs of reversing, and therefore, we are moving toward consolidation of our behavioral health services at Woodridge.”

In February, MSHA eliminated the Pavilion’s general outpatient therapy services, resulting in the loss of five general clinical therapist positions. At the time, some of those employees had already found other jobs within MSHA. Also at that time, MSHA said it was evaluating all of its services.

Mountain States Health Alliance is a nonprofit health care organization based in Johnson City that operates 15 hospitals in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, Blue Ridge Medical Management Corp., home care and hospice services. The organization supports the health and wellness of patients in a 29-county, four-state region.

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