Lynchburg, VA - The major health care provider in the Lynchburg area is making cuts, claiming it's the latest casualty in a nationwide healthcare trend.
Centra announced Wednesday 160 employees will lose their jobs, and leaders say it's because its hospitals are losing patients.
If you do a quick Internet search for the keywords "hospital patient volumes," you'll find report after report of hospitals closing or cutting services across the country.
Centra says its patient volume is down 4 to 5 % from last year and that one big reason is people are just in better health.
There seems to be some legitimacy to that claim.
Brad Weaver is a local insurance agent specializing in employee benefits. He says the big push by health insurance companies for healthier customers started years before the president's health care law was passed.
Many companies implemented rewards programs to encourage people to go to the gym or started giving discounts to non-smokers.
"They have less expenses as a result of hospital admissions or just general care that's necessary. Once someone allows their weight to get out of hand or their lifestyle to get out of hand, which causes medical care, medical expenses to rise. That the insurance company must cover. They would much prefer a healthy population that they're covering as opposed to those needing a lot of medical care," said Weaver.
So what's good for you and the insurance company many not necessarily be good for the hospital's bottom line.
We reached out to both Roanoke-based Carilion Clinic and Lewis Gale Medical Center in Salem. They say their patient volumes have remained steady.
Ford V will close within the next few weeks and those patients will now be treated at Lynchburg General.
Some examples of patients who may be treated there are people gallbladder surgery. Gynecological and urological patients also receive care on that floor, along with people being treated for infections.
The Outpatient Department, or OPD, is a physician scheduled unit. That means doctors will call from their offices and send patients over.
People who need blood transfusions are seen there as well as people who need medicine or hydration through an IV.
The department does see some pediatric patients. It is only open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 7 days a week.
It will close December 31, so if you have an appointment at OPD between now and then, you're fine.
Centra does want to stress that the OB ward will remain open at Virginia Baptist Hospital.