In response to consistently low demand for inpatient and emergency room care, Blessing Health recently announced it will close its hospital in Keokuk, Iowa, and focus its healthcare resources in the region on clinic-based, outpatient care.
The hospital has been in financial crisis for 10 years. During that time, residents of the region have developed new habits and patterns for where they receive their inpatient health care, leading the hospital to average fewer than two inpatients per day and less than one emergency room visit per hour.
Blessing leaders say the level of inpatient and emergency care demand does not support the investment required to operate a hospital of 49 beds and an emergency room around the clock, seven days a week.
A recent architectural survey by a private company also revealed the hospital building required renovation and replacement of decayed vital infrastructure that could reach into the millions of dollars to complete. Based on current and expected patient use of hospital-based services in Keokuk, Blessing leaders say an investment that could total millions of dollars cannot be made responsibly.
While Blessing could not turn around the hospital’s performance, neither could others who have tried, including UnityPoint Health, from whom Blessing took over management of the hospital in March 2021.
Blessing Health Keokuk’s 147 employees will be retained until Nov. 4 in a combination of either on-site work or on administrative leave.
Blessing Health human resources representatives will assist those interested and qualified to apply for other open positions in the health system and will attempt to bring other employers on to the Keokuk campus in the coming weeks for additional employment opportunities.
The hospital property will be put up for sale.