|By Michael L. Diamond, Asbury Park Press, N.J.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The time capsule still will be there, but Kimball won't.
With the change may come pain; nurses are bracing for job cuts. But it also can be seen as a bellwether for hospitals statewide. In the age of health reform, both private insurers and the government want their customers to stay out of hospitals, where the cost for care is expensive.
"We've seen this elsewhere, where these hospitals are fairly close to one another," said
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has ushered in cost restraints, perhaps the final nail for Kimball.
The hospital, named after
The town's demographics have changed. From 2008 to 2012,
Some 80 percent of Kimball's patients were insured by government programs
The result: Kimball in 2012 reported an operating loss of
And numbers show Kimball wasn't well suited to care for the community. For example, it didn't have a neonatal intensive care unit to treat premature and ill babies, meaning that about half of all
Barnabas officials said they plan to close Kimball's maternity ward.
They envision the merger working like this: Kimball and Monmouth Medical opened the Jacqueline M. Wilentz Breast Centers in
The hospital merger needs regulatory approval. It is expected to go into effect this spring.
The technology can produce oohs and ahs, but workers at Kimball are nervous. The company has acknowledged the plan will come with layoffs, but it wouldn't say how many. (It said it would work with affected employees to find jobs for them elsewhere).
Worker representatives said the outcome was the result of bad management.
"The system has not put any funding into Kimball to update equipment, to attract doctors, to change the facility itself," said
"If you want to produce you've got to put some resources into it," Refinski said. "I would say, no they have not (put resources in it). Now they want to put
Thein, from Fitch Ratings, said mergers aren't easy. Doctors from Monmouth Medical will need to travel 25 miles to get to
Kimball is "a safety-net hospital for the area," he said. "It takes care of the uninsured, underinsured. The question is, how do you lessen the loss impact, how do you provide better service, how do you attract more people with insurance? You bring in more specialties and more services."
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