Still In Service

IRVING – The looming cloud of layoffs and the closing Lake Shore Health Care Center were both dispelled Wednesday with an announcement for plans to keep the hospital open.

Scott Butler, divisional director for business development, released a statement announcing cancellation of closure plans and WARN notices and the establishment of a restructuring plan for TLC Health Care Network, Lake Shore’s parent company, to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Later in an interview, Butler explained the separation from LERHSNY has allowed Lake Shore to focus on priorities.

“It has given us control of our own destiny. … Each of the organizations have a lot to focus on right now and no one entity could focus on all the priorities at once. So by separating, it allows TLC to focus on the TLC-specific needs right now and carry them through to a better future without the distraction of things that have nothing directly to do with our facility at the moment,” he added.

Butler explained the plan to exit bankruptcy is an alternative to the previous goal of selling the hospital.

The hospital will remain open while a plan is developed with the help of a $6.6 million IAAF grant and some operational improvements.

Butler said these operational changes include reducing expenditures, streamlining administration, giving employees multiple duties and staffing to patient census. Since the closure notice was issued in October 2013, about 150 employees have been laid off, leaving about 300 remaining.

Since the announcement that Lake Shore would close, the community has stood behind the hospital.

“We’re feeling positive and we’re thankful that the community has stuck by us and overwhelmed us with their support when they could have easily chosen to go els where or looked for alternatives. But they did the exact opposite and they really stuck by us and flooded my mailbox with letters of support for staying open and how much the hospital means to them. I just want to say that really does make a difference to us. We have been reading those letters and taking them to heart,” Butler said.

TLC is now working on a plan to exit bankruptcy with a viable operation.

“As TLC’s board and administrative team work together with various community stakeholders to formulate a reorganization plan, all are excited about the positive trajectory the organization seems to be on and our potential for continuing to deliver high-quality health care in this community for many years to come,” Butler added.

He said although the plan will allow Lake Shore to stand alone, it does not rule out partnerships.

“It is definitely possible, all across the nation we have seen it is hard for small rural health care providers to stand on their own for a long period of time. We are preparing Lake Shore to be able to make money on its own and stand on its own, but I still think there is a strong possibility that we’ll look to extend partnerships in one way or another down the road. That doesn’t necessarily mean a full asset merger, but some kind of partnerships will be borne out of this at the end of the day,” he said.

Although details are not yet set, Butler explained the hospital is in the process of developing a plan based on several questions.

We are doing a health needs assessment with community partners, trying to get a good handle on any needs that are unmet in our community, are there extra services that we could bring here that have a potential to serve the community and make money or improve our bottom line. Can we do some things better, are there services we are providing now that are already being provided by many other providers and therefore are not helpful for us to provide going forward? Those are the answers we are trying to get out of this process. The next step from there will be, now that we have the list of core services we need to provide, how do we do it in a way that is financially viable so that we don’t get into this mess again?” he said.

Butler said these stakeholders include political officials, area health experts and patients.

“We are trying to get a sense from anybody that has had experience with the hospital directly or with health care in the area, what their take is and what they think we need to provide, what we’re missing. We are really trying to turn over a new leaf here and involve the community as much as possible so we are true partners in every aspect. We are not going to make these decisions behind closed doors, on a whim or without solid data. We are going to make one final plan that is lasting and really makes a difference.”