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The merger and Level 1 trauma classification are moving forward, according to Billings Clinic



Billings, Montana – A hospital spokeswoman stated on Monday that Billings Clinic, Montana’s largest hospital, is still pushing forward with two significant initiatives: accreditation as a Level 1 trauma center and a merger with Kalispell-based Logan Health.

Scott Ellner, a former hospital Executive, first announced the Level 1 trauma designation a year ago. The $30 million initiative would boost hospital revenue potential while improving care for trauma patients in the area.

The merger was intended to be completed this summer when it was first announced in February.

Concerns regarding these actions were raised Friday after interim CEO Clint Seger sent an email to Billings Clinic staff claiming the hospital is losing money at an unsustainable rate. The management of Billings Clinic will strive for $4.55 million in monthly savings in order to return to profitability.

The merger of Logan Health will proceed after the veracity of the memo has been established and the Level 1 trauma designation has been clarified.

The document describes Billings Clinic’s precarious financial predicament and the hospital’s plans to reduce doctor pay by up to 5%, stop making contributions to retirement plans for employees, and freeze recruiting across the board, among other cost-saving measures.

It appears that Billings Clinic is not the only hospital in financial difficulty in the United States.

“I think right now hospitals are really enduring the worst of the labor shortage,” said Pat Barkey, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

According to Barkey, the demand for non-emergency treatment and the labor shortage are two major factors contributing to financial difficulties in hospitals.

“You put those together and it’s been a very challenging environment and by the way, it’s fairly unique for healthcare and hospitals to have this kind of challenge,” Barkey said.

As of March 31, 33 hospital and health systems worldwide, including many in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, California, and other states, were eliminating staff, according to Becker’s Healthcare, a national publication for hospitals.

Billings Clinic is not included on the list and has not yet made any announcements on the layoffs.

According to Barkey, a more extensive discussion about the state of American healthcare is imminent.

“Healthcare has long had the reputation of being the recession-proof part of the economy, but things have really changed,” Barkey said. “The go-go growth of healthcare, especially recently, has not been there.”


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