A group of South Shore hospitals is considering closing its doors for good after months of budget cuts and a series of other factors, according to the hospital’s interim CEO.
The South Shore Health System’s interim executive director and CEO, Eric H. Schulte, has resigned after a weeklong investigation by the American Hospital Association and other health care groups into the hospital system’s operations.
The union’s investigation has revealed a series that include: Hospital staff who were not paid their salaries; hospitals paying out-of-pocket costs for staff members who had not taken time off from work, such as maternity leave; hospitals offering free medical screenings to patients in need, but not providing the same care to all patients; and hospitals using a “pilot” system for emergency room patients in which patients wait up to 90 days for a doctor.
The American Hospital Act requires hospitals to follow the guidelines of their states and to provide all health care providers with adequate resources and training.
The hospitals investigation has also revealed that in the three months before the closure, South Shore spent $7 million more than it would have for the same amount of time.
It also said it has made significant changes to the way it pays its employees.
The hospital system will continue to provide its care and services in a way that ensures our patients have access to quality care, including through the use of an emergency department, the union’s interim director said in a statement Friday.
Schute’s resignation came just days after the hospital announced a major new effort to improve its emergency room and outpatient care, which it said it will start this year.
The plan calls for increasing the number of emergency rooms and improving the number and quality of patients admitted to them.
Hospital officials have said that, with additional resources, they will also be able to hire more physicians.
But the hospital said it was still making significant changes.
Among them: reducing the number inpatient stays and reducing the length of hospital stays to 10 days, instead of five, and closing some of its outpatient clinics.
The board also has agreed to invest $10 million over the next three years to expand the operating room, which currently includes only a hospital bed and a bedside table.
It plans to have one additional hospital bed.
The emergency room has been closed to patients since September because of budget shortages and a shortage of nurses.