Medical center decides to keep Harrison clinic closed

HARRISON – Madison Valley Medical Center officials sited low patient traffic and finances as reasons for keeping their Harrison Medical Clinic closed.

The medical center board decided to close the Harrison Clinic in 2009, but made a commitment to the Harrison community to revisit the issue in a couple of years, said board member John Scully during a meeting Wednesday night at Harrison High School.

However, the finances at the medical center and the low demand for services in Harrison are prohibitive to re-opening the clinic, Scully said.

The Harrison Medical Clinic has been open sporadically for several years, but has never had many patients, he said.

In 2009, when the medical center as a whole was struggling financially after building the new facility in Ennis, the Harrison clinic was being operated one day a week and some days no patients showed up, Scully explained.

Plus, it was a time when the medical center had lost their physicians and physician’s assistants, he said.

During the past two years, the medical center has undergone a reorganization and a complete turnover in medical staff. Additionally, the medical center now is under new management, he said.

And though things are heading in the right direction and the medical center’s finances are better than they were, it continues to be a struggle, Scully said.

The board anticipated 2011 to be an improvement financially over 2009 and 2010, but that hasn’t been the case, he said. Patient stays at the hospital and visits to the clinic are slightly down, despite now having more doctors and physician’s assistants on staff to see patients.

“We continue to have a very tough time running the hospital in terms of revenue,” Scully said.

Besides fewer patient stays and clinic visits, Medicare reimbursements have been slow in coming.

“Clinic visits is probably the biggest disappointment and biggest surprise for us,” he said. “When we had a full slate of doctors in the clinic, it’s hard to believe we didn’t do better than we did.”

The tough year has resulted in eliminating some positions and not re-hiring after people have left, Scully said.

Still, the medical center is in much better position than it was two years ago, said board member John Duncan.

“Long term, I think it looks good,” Duncan said. “We’re just not there yet.”

Though a few citizens from the Harrison area were in attendance Wednesday, little comment was provided regarding the decision to keep the clinic closed. However, Scully encouraged people to call with any concerns or input.

“We have a terrific staff and they’ve weathered a lot of storms and have done it cheerfully,” he said.

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