Saint Marys may host long-term acute care hospital

March 20, 2011
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A long-term acute care hospital now located in Muskegon is seeking state approval to move into Saint Mary’s Health Care in Grand Rapids.

Great Lakes Specialty Hospital intends to move 20 beds from Mercy Health Partners’ 1700 Oak Ave. facility to the fifth floor of Saint Mary’s, 200 Jefferson St. SE, said Edwin Bodensiek, vice president of public relations for parent company Select Medical Corp. of Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Great Lakes plans to invest $1.9 million in remodeling and equipment, according to the Certificate of Need letter of intent the company filed last month with the Michigan Department of Community Health. It will spend $4.76 million over 10 years in lease payments to Saint Mary’s.

Saint Mary’s and Mercy Health Partners are both owned by Trinity Health, which owns or manages 43 hospitals and a variety of other health care services in nine states.

“They approached us to ask whether this would be something we would be interested in,” Saint Mary’s COO Randy Wagner said. “We had the available space.”

No date has been set for the move, Bodensiek said.

“Long-term acute care is hospital care for the nation’s sickest patients,” Bodensiek said. “We have very highly specialized services and training to take care of chronically ill patients, those with catastrophic injuries or medically complex conditions.”

He said that about two-third of the Oak Avenue patients are from Muskegon and northern Ottawa County, and the rest are from Grand Rapids, Cadillac and Traverse City.

Great Lakes runs 11 long-term acute care hospitals in Michigan, including one at MHP’s Hackley Hospital, Bodensiek said.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services in 2007 issued a three-year moratorium on new long-term care hospitals, which was extended through 2012 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“We have a 20-bed license which we are taking to Grand Rapids,” Bodensiek said. “It’s a great opportunity to not just move the facility, but to better service West Michigan and Grand Rapids.”

Jim Roberge, MHP senior director of facilities services, said that MHP has been working toward moving the tenants in the Oak facility since Muskegon’s two hospitals merged in 2008. Formerly the location of Muskegon General Hospital, the building was constructed in the 1960s, he said.

Last year, obstetrics was moved out and consolidated at Hackley, he said. MHP is working on moving out other tenants, among them a sleep disorder clinic, a laboratory, urgent services and a low-income clinic, so that the Oak location can be closed. He estimated that would occur no sooner than 2013, and said no decisions have been made on the fate of the property. 

After two long-term acute care companies merged, Great Lakes Specialty became the owner of long-term acute care hospitals in Muskegon, at Oak Avenue, with 20 beds, and at Hackley, with 31 beds. The Oak Avenue location employs 135 people, Bodensiek said.

Roberge said Great Lakes Specialty is renovating a floor at the Hackley campus and will offer all private rooms there. The renovated space at Saint Mary’s also will have private rooms, he said.

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