Keokuk Health Blessing to quit

KEOKUK (WGEM) – Blessing Health Keokuk announced Thursday that it will close on October 1st at 12:01 am due to low demand for hospital and emergency care.

In March 2021, Blessing purchased the hospital to improve its performance. The hospital has been in financial crisis for 10 years.

According to Blessing officials, a recent architectural investigation by a private company revealed that the hospital building required the renovation and replacement of vital decaying infrastructure that could reach millions of dollars to complete.

Based on patients’ current and anticipated use of hospital services in Keokuk, Blessing leaders said an investment that could amount to millions of dollars cannot be made responsibly.

Blessing Health Keokuk leaders said the level of demand for hospital and emergency care does not support the investment needed to run a 49-bed hospital and 24/7 emergency room.

“The average daily inpatient census is about two patients per day and the average volume of emergency room visits is about one per hour, about 24 per day,” said Kathy Hull, head of small rural hospitals for the health of the blessing.

“We didn’t want that to happen,” Hull said. “This wasn’t our plan.”

He attributed financial concerns in the rural medical field as a factor.

“You know it’s a financial reason, it’s just a sign of the health times, sadly small rural establishments will find it much, much harder to continue to be profitable and even be able to be non-existent,” Hull said.

According to Keokuk City Administrator Cole S. O’Donnell Blessing employed 147 people in Keokuk and transferred as many as possible to other Blessing facilities.

“This decision is not only a blow to Keokuk, but to rural communities around the world. Residents will need to travel for treatment or wait for local emergency care facilities to open. Even then, the quality of patient care will only come from facilities 20-60 minutes away, “said Keokuk Mayor Kathie Mahoney.” This is also a loss of quality jobs that will have a significant impact on families and the community “.

This is the second major employer in Keokuk to announce its closure in the past two weeks. On August 26, ADM Milling announced that the company would permanently close its Keokuk plant.

“The mayor told me that seven of the employees over there had spouses who worked at ADM, so there are seven families in this community right now that have both head of the house out of work,” O’Donnell said.

As for Blessing, O’Donnell said city officials have reached out to other medical service providers to start discussions about ways to provide 24-hour care in Keokuk.

O’Donnell’s deputy officials will also contact state and federal officials to determine what care is available or what legislation is needed to help rural communities maintain quality health care for their citizens.

Blessing officials said all of its Keokuk employees will be held until November 4 for on-site work or administrative leave.

Officials said the hospital property will be put up for sale.

According to Blessing, area residents needing emergency care after the hospital closes should call Emergency Health Services so Lee County EMS can transport them to the nearest emergency room equipped to meet their medical needs. Emergency assistance is available in Fort Madison and Burlington, Iowa, and Carthage and Quincy, Illinois.

“We are disappointed but undeterred,” Hull said. “When we re-established our presence in Keokuk last year, we stated that Blessing was committed to investing in Keokuk’s healthcare infrastructure to revitalize the community and the region for the benefit of all. Blessing has made an investment in the community and will continue to do so through outpatient care ”.

Blessing Health Keokuk patients who need their medical records to be transferred can go to blessinghealth.org/medicalrecords or call 217-223-8400, ext. 6600.

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