St. Joseph’s Mercy Health System is applying to the Arkansas Department of Health to change the licensure for St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center at HealthPark. If granted, HealthPark would go from being an acute-care hospital to an outpatient surgery center.
“We anticipate doing most of the same-day surgeries over there,” said St. Joseph’s Mercy President Tim Johnsen. “As technology improves, the need for inpatient stays decrease and the need for outpatient visits increase. We need that facility to serve in that role.”
St. Joseph’s Mercy and HealthFirst Physicians Group announced a multimillion dollar merger earlier this year. As part of the merger, Mercy acquired HealthPark Hospital and the adjacent medical office building and the Hot Springs Village. HealthPark’s average daily census was only five patients. With St. Joseph’s Mercy typically at around 75 percent of capacity, they can easily be absorbed.
“HealthPark is licensed as an acute-care facility and is open 24/7. Based on those requirements, we have to have staff in the Emergency Department the entire time. As we’ve studied it and operated it for the past four months, it’s obvious that we can provide a much better patient experience by moving HealthPark to an outpatient surgery center,” Johnsen said.
The changes will become effective after Department of Health approval, which is expected to take 60 days.
“We will apply to the state department of health to change the licensure to a department of St. Joseph’s. That allows the need for the emergency department to go away. With a well-staffed, well-equipped emergency department a couple of hundred yards away, that is just duplicate services that are costly.”
HealthPark and St. Joseph’s Mercy are both located off of Higdon Ferry Road in Hot Springs. They are separated by Highway 70/270. The new HealthPark will only do outpatient surgeries, while a mix of inpatient and outpatient surgeries will still be done at St. Joseph’s Mercy.
“The O.R. at St. Joseph’s Mercy can focus on the trauma, the more critically ill cases that will require inpatient stays,” Johnsen said. “I think it’s a big positive that we’re reducing healthcare costs in this community by doing this.”