County questioning levy after Greene Memorial’s ICU closure

By Anna Bolton - [email protected]

XENIA — Greene County commissioners are concerned after the intensive care unit (ICU) at Greene Memorial Hospital (GMH) closed unexpectedly last month.

Greene Memorial Hospital President Rick Dodds said the unit closed Feb. 13 when an intensivist group that covered the ICU left the hospital. As it stands, if a patient at GMH needs ICU services, he or she will be transported to Soin Medical Center — also part of Kettering Health Network (KHN) — in Beavercreek.

“The decision to consolidate the ICU is a decision that we made in the best interests of our patients,” Dodds wrote in an email to the Gazette. “The patient is at the center of all we do.”

County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said he learned about the closure when he overheard a GMH employee talking about it.

“That jarred me a little bit. We had some concerns,” Huddleson said.

Dodds met with the board Feb. 20 for a work session, where he assured the commissioners that the network was actively engaged in a nationwide search to find another intensivist, and would be working on future plans for the ICU over the next 60 days.

But the “chipping away of services” at a levy-supported hospital is what Huddleson said the county is worried about.

“The commissioners obviously are terribly concerned that we’ve removed a vital service from Greene Memorial Hospital, right on the heels of having let their trauma designation go for their ER a couple months before that,” Huddleson said. “The commissioners made it very, very clear that they expect the same or more services at Greene Memorial, not less … their interpretation of what the levy purpose is and the commissioners’ interpretation might be different, and because the commissioners levy the tax, it’s their interpretation that matters.”

During the work session, Commissioner Tom Koogler said there was preliminary discussion about eliminating the levies. Dodds responded, stating that the hospital relies heavily on levy funds to operate.

“We want the dollars spent properly, we want the services provided, but we don’t want to see the doors close either,” Huddleson told the Gazette.

Dodds said GMH will continue to comply with the terms and conditions of the tax levy.

“While Kettering Health Network has made significant investments in Greene Memorial since its affiliation in 2008, we still depend on the levy to help sustain the hospital,” he said.

According to Dodds, the levy provides funds for services including stroke and cardiac care, rural health centers, emergency room equipment and cancer care, but not ICU services.

“We regularly evaluate services at all of our facilities, taking into consideration a number of factors, including the community’s health needs and patient volume,” he said.

Current 5-year renewal levies for GMH expire in 2021 and 2023, Huddleson said. In November 2018, county voters passed the levy 62 to 37 percent.

“They’ve been widely supported by this community in and out, every time,” Huddleson said. “We feel a responsibility to the tax payers to make sure they get what they’re paying for, especially with things like COVID-19.”

Dodds said the hospital has the resources of KHN, including an emergency prepardeness team that is evaluating readiness and response to caring for patients who may have COVID-19 at any of the network hospitals.

“The decision to use Greene Memorial Hospital, Soin Medical Center or any of our hospitals would be based upon infection, spread, location, and current recommendations on containment, confinement and treatment,” he said. “The safety and care of patients in Greene County is a responsibility we take seriously — it is our sacred work as a faith-based organization.”

By Anna Bolton

[email protected]

Call 937-502-4498 or follow Anna Bolton, Reporter on Facebook.

Call 937-502-4498 or follow Anna Bolton, Reporter on Facebook.