Pinnacle Regional Hospital in Boonville, Missouri, says it has voluntarily closed the facility, including its rural health clinic, outpatient clinic and emergency department.
In a terse “To whom it may concern” letter, Pinnacle CEO Joseph Conigliaro said the hospital had decided the “economic hardship” of complying with recent demands by Missouri health regulators was “too great to make the appropriate repairs necessary.”
The letter said the hospital would cease all operations as of Wednesday, but staff members would be present in the emergency department for the next 14 days to assist walk-in patients.
KCUR reported earlier this month that Missouri health regulators had ordered the hospital to stop performing surgery until it overhauled its sterile processing procedures. Conigliaro had told KCUR that it was moving forward with a plan to comply.
The closure of the hospital, formerly known as Cooper County Memorial Hospital, comes just after it informed employees that they would not be paid as scheduled today.
“The inflow of cash during the holidays was extraordinarily low,” Pinnacle chief financial officer Dale Farrell informed them in an email obtained by KCUR. “However, we are expecting some significant deposits yet this week and are optimistic paychecks will be available by Friday. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.”
Over the weekend, the hospital said it had ceased laboratory testing “(d)ue to regulatory issues within the laboratory department.” As a result, it said, the emergency department had been placed on diversionary status with state and local emergency medical services.
It also said that the hospital would not be accepting admissions to its inpatient unit.
The Boonville hospital and Pinnacle Regional Hospital in Overland Park, Kansas, are owned by businessman Doug Palzer, who could not immediately be reached for comment.
Palzer bought the Boonville facility after the Overland Park facility, then known as Blue Valley Hospital, lost its Medicare certification in 2018. Both hospitals specialize in bariatric surgery – a procedure to help extremely obese people lose weight – and claimed to perform more than a third of all bariatric surgeries for Missouri Medicaid patients.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stripped the Overland Park hospital of its Medicare certification after finding it did not “primarily engage” in providing inpatient services, a requirement for Medicare coverage. Hospitals must average at least two inpatients a day and an average length of stay of at least two nights to be eligible for Medicare reimbursement.
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.