In response to questions and criticism of its announcement that it would be restructuring the Transitional Care Center and Dental Clinic, the administration of Warren General Hospital issued a statement late Wednesday, saying the moves are necessary in light of the loss of the hospital's county tax-exempt status.
The statement follows:
"Warren General Hospital has been asked a lot of questions about recent statements in the Times Observer regarding the restructuring of the Transitional Care Center and the Dental Clinic.John Papalia, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer at Warren General Hospital was contacted, being asked to provide information in regard to the decisions to restructure and offer services in a different manner.
"As most are well aware, there are federal and state decisions, laws and regulations that have been impacting the provision of health care at many levels.This is no different than most years in recent memory.
"Of significant concern, however, is the recent notice of Warren County's decision to revoke the hospital's tax-exempt statusfor real property taxes.Since its inception in the late 1800's, Warren General Hospital has been a 501(C)(3) charitable organization.As a charitable organization, WGH provides over $4 million of charity care annually, to those most in need of services, and unable to pay. The hospital provides this care, all while working diligently to break even on operations each and every year.
"The impact of Warren County's decision to revoke our tax-exempt status is of great concern to the future of Warren General Hospital.This act will significantly weaken our ability to remain an independent community hospital.The result of this could have far-reaching impacts on access to health care for our county residents. It will also have an economic impact with the potential loss of jobs as services at the hospital have to be restructured," said Papalia.
"Warren General Hospital currently employs over 700 health care professionals.
"The tax-exempt revocation has brought about the need to make significant changes to services that have been operating at a loss throughout the years.The Transitional Care Center, much loved in the community, and the Crescent Park Dental Clinic, much needed in the community, are the first to be affected by a need to restructure.
"Historically, due to federal and state constraints on reimbursement which are outside of our control, both of these departments have lost money, TCC losing on average $400,000 per year and the dental clinic losing $250,000 per year.We have been able to counterbalance those losses with revenue streams from other areas, in order to continue to provide these treasured services.Warren County's decision to revoke the hospital's tax exemption has mandated that we can no longer afford to provide care in the same manner," said Papalia.
"We intend to fight Warren County's decision to take away the hospital's tax-exempt status through the court system, which is adding a further economic hardship on the hospital.And we understand that we are not alone.It has been brought to our attention that the County has served other not-for-profit organizations significant to our community, such as the YMCA, with notice to revoke their tax-exempt status.This will undoubtedly lead to the loss of much needed human services and jobs for our county, at a time we can least afford it, should these organizations lose this fight. Warren General has always viewed the economic development of this county as tied to the growth and stability of our county and to the health of the hospital. We have maintained our commitment to this for over a decade, and we find this action by Warren County to be very disappointing."
It is not clear at this point whether the hospital would revisit its decisions on the Transitional Care Unit and the Dental Clinic of the tax-exempt status restored.
CEO John Papalia was traveling on Wednesday and not available to elaborate further than the official statement.