UPDATE 9/27/23 5:10 p.m.
The changes that are coming to Munson Healthcare are ones that President and CEO Ed Ness says are needed for patients, and that if they don’t make this change into a more “patient centric” approach then they won’t be around to care for Northern Michigan for the next 100 years.
“They want to have easy, convenient access and they want things like virtual care,” Ness said. “And so since health care is changing so much, we want to redesign how we deliver that health care to meet those needs. So in each of our communities we’re making different investments. Some of those will happen quicker than others, some are easier than others.”
This means that some community members will have to commute further to receive health care that they need. But there may be even more changes coming for employees with not only a change to their commute, but they may have to relocate completely.
“With 700 positions right now, that means some employees may have to change job roles as well as possibly relocate,” Ness said.
Ness said it comes down to the best care for the patient.
“Like today, there’s some surgeries that are done in Traverse City because they’re of a technical nature or sophisticated that they need the resources,” he said.
Even with all the changes, Ness said they are focusing on the needs of the people they serve by listening to concerns and comments.
“And so I think we need to keep listening to our communities. In each of our communities we have what’s called the Community Health Care Council,” Ness said.
The council is a group that keeps an ear out in the community and communicates back to Munson what they need. In additon, Ness said that they’ve been doing what they can to make the transition as smooth as possible.
“I think a lot of it’s listening. We’ve been spending a lot of time over the last year being out in our communities listening to needs, and that’s where we heard things like we want easier access to physicians. We want to wait so long to get into a specialist,” Ness said.
The changes are expected to take three years to complete, but Munson said that some changes will be in effect by the end of this year.
UPDATE 9/27/23 3:30 p.m.
In response to the announcement from Munson Healthcare that they would be reducing services at certain locations, the Traverse City Munson Nurses Association and the Manistee Hospital RN Staff Council issued the following statement:
“We have read Munson’s announcement and are awaiting further details. However, we have some initial concerns. Hospitals provide vital services to our families and communities. Nursing is facing a crisis as profit-driven decisions drive nurses away from the bedside. Virtual appointments are no substitute for in-person care even in the best of circumstances. This is especially true in areas that do not have reliable internet access. Right now, over 50,000 actively licensed Michigan RNs are choosing not to work as nurses because of the working conditions hospitals have created. Reducing vital services in rural areas will make the problem worse, not better. We need to make sure that all patients are able to receive the same standard of high-quality care no matter where they live.”
9/27/23 1:45 p.m.
On Wednesday, Munson Healthcare announced its three-year Regional Care Transformation Plan.
The organization plans to adjust its services in the Grayling, Gaylord, Charlevoix, Cadillac, Frankfort and Manistee areas to address staffing and resource issues.
Under the plan:
- Otsego Memorial Hospital will become a regional hospital and Charlevoix and Grayling will become community hospitals, focused on more outpatient services with limited inpatient care.
- In the South Region, Cadillac will become a regional hospital; and Manistee and Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital will become community hospitals, focused on more outpatient services with limited inpatient care.
- Munson Medical Center in Traverse City will continue to elevate its services to be the Regional High-Level Specialty Care Center available 24/7 to treat complex conditions such as NICU, Oncology, Critical Care, Stroke and Cardiology.
The plan also includes improvements for patients including more virtual care options and faster check-in.