MEDICAL : Buena Park Hospital Withdraws From Medical-Surgical Business

Compiled by Leslie Berkman, Times staff writer

Unable to keep its beds full enough to make money, Buena Park Community Hospital this month got out of the acute-care business.

In December, the 25-year-old hospital stopped admitting medical-surgical patients. On Jan. 4, it dedicated all 53 beds to treating chemical dependency and mental health patients.

Administrator Paul R. Schmidt said the hospital has been losing money on its general acute medical services for at least four years.

Schmidt attributed the losses to an overabundance of hospital beds in the county and a continuing decline in federal reimbursements for Medicare patients.

Four general acute-care hospitals with 536 beds among them operate within a 3-mile radius of Buena Park Community Hospital, "and very few of those hospitals are running at more than 50% to 60% occupancy," Schmidt said.

He said Parcelsus Healthcare Corp., which owns the Buena Park hospital, is converting several marginally profitable hospitals to chemical dependency and mental health facilities.

A year ago, Schmidt said, Buena Park Community Hospital introduced its chemical dependency program. Family counseling was added this year. In contrast with the discontinued medical-surgical program, he said, the new programs are "generally full all the time."

As part of Buena Park Hospital's metamorphosis, its 24-hour emergency room has been replaced with an urgent-care and family medical center providing outpatient treatment 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

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