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From the Battle Creek Enquirer (print edition-- top story), Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Albion hospital in crisis

$2 million loss expected; in-patient care may end

Albion - The future of health care in Albion is uncertain as Trillium Health Alliance is expected to have lost close to $2 million in 2001 -- the sixth straight year the hospital has lost money.

A one-year management agreement last February between Trillium and Foote Health System in Jackson provided the Albion hospital with Foote's top administrative personnel, resulting in the two sharing Chief Executive Officer Georgia Fojtasek and Chief Financial Officer Charlie Johnson in an effort to make Trillium profitable again, said Trillium spokesperson Ginger Hadley.

The move didn't work and now Foote's and Trillium's boards will meet within a week of each other, January 23 and Jan. 29, respectively, to discuss what will happen to Trillium.

"Foote's board and Trillium's board are looking at ways to make sure we can continue to deliver health care," Hadley said. "No decisions will be made before February."

Options that the boards will consider includes the possibility of Trillium operating on an outpatient only basis, Hadley said. If that happens, then inpatient services will be handled at Foote.

There is also the possibility the boards will decide to keep Trillium operating exactlly as it is now, Hadley added.

"We have looked at various aspects and service models," Hadley said. "The goal was to look at operational efficiencies and we are continuing to work on the communications issues."

The final financial statements for 2001 have not been completed, but Trillium probably lost about $2 million in 2001, Hadley said. The hospital lost $1.8 million in 1999 and 2000, before the management agreement was signed.

The two boards are trying to decide what direction to take with Trillium before the management agreement expires on February 19, said Robin Kirkpatrick, spokeswoman for Foote. It is uncertain what will happen when the new agreement expires, but a new agreement or a extension of the current one are both possibilities.

"Basically the year was for us to get into the operations of Trillium and see what issues were there," Kirkpatrick said. "We've been working in partnership with Trillium at least three or four years prior to the agreement. We consider the Albion area as part of our service area and the community is important to us in terms of the services we provide.

© 2002 Battle Creek Enquirer.

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