Grass Valley hospital to close transitional care unit |

Grass Valley hospital to close transitional care unit

Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley will close its transitional care unit in February, affecting the employment of more than 20 staff members, the organization announced Thursday evening.

The decision to close the unit is due to the changes in financial reimbursement for skilled nursing care, which does not cover the cost of providing that care in an acute care hospital facility, according a statement issued Thursday evening.

“A lot of this is our health care system changing at the national level,” said spokesperson Debbie Plass in a Thursday night interview. “We’re having to realign our services.”

The hospital’s transitional care unit (TCU), sometimes called “step-down care,” serves as an intermediary stage for patients on their way from more intensive hospitalization to a long-term care facility or returning
home. Often the unit provides needed access to services not available at home, such as lab work, therapy and intravenous medicines.

“A lot of this is our health care system changing at the national level.”
e_SEmD Debbie Plass, spokesperson

Established in 1994, Sierra Memorial’s transitional care unit is a 17-bed, licensed, skilled nursing facility that has an average of 14 daily patients who stay an average of 14 days each, a large portion of whom are seniors, Plass said.

Part of the decision to shutter the unit stems from the number of local facilities — such as Crystal Ridge Care Center, Wolf Creek Care Center, Golden Empire Convalescent Hospital, Spring Hill Manor and Hospice — that also provide skilled nursing and that reportedly have the capacity to absorb additional patients, Plass said.

“We already work really closely with them for many patients,” Plass said. “We already have a collaborative working relationship.”

Until Feb. 1, the hospital will continue to provide care in the TCU, and patient care will not be affected, according to the hospital’s statement.

Employees comprising the equivalent of 21 full-time TCU positions have been notified of the decision. Hospital personnel are reportedly working closely with affected employees
to identify other opportunities in the Dignity Health system for which they may be qualified.

The news comes a few weeks before Christmas, but the staff reductions were announced as soon as the hospital got the information about the cost of
care to allow affected employees to adjust their financial decisions over the holidays, Plass said.

Not only will the hospital shed more than 21 full-time equivalent employees, but workloads of other units serving the TCU will be reduced, Plass said.

Although she did not provide a figure on the anticipated cost savings, Plass said it was enough to divert to other areas in the hospital to sustain its ability to provide better health care to the area.

“As we strive to meet the increasing and changing demand for care, we will continue to assess and align our resources to best meet the needs of our community,” Thursday’s news release stated.

“Sometimes that will require shifts in which care is delivered in order to extend the (Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital) legacy of excellent medical care close to home for generations to come.”

Dignity Health was previously known as Catholic Healthcare West — a nonprofit hospital system that is one of the largest health care providers in the United States.

It changed its name nearly a year ago as of January.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call (530) 477-4236.

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