Loudoun Healthcare Inc. will close its Purcellville Urgent Care Center on Nov. 14 as part of its cost-cutting efforts to recover from about $27 million in losses over the last two years.
The board of directors voted Thursday night to shut the 2 1/2-year-old facility, the only hospital-affiliated medical center in western Loudoun, after it lost more than $660,000 last year treating 14 to 16 patients a day, according to Joseph A. Ruffolo, Loudoun Healthcare's interim chief executive.
Also Thursday night, the board adopted a permanent budget for fiscal 2000 ending June 30 that "shows the hospital recovering from its current fiscal crisis with projections for a balanced budget" in later years, said hospital spokesman Linda Roberts. She said the projected loss for fiscal 2000 is $340,000.
In a statement issued Friday, Ruffolo called it "a clear indication that the fiscal health of our system is improving." According to Roberts, the reduction in losses was achieved by renegotiating several managed care contracts, improving billing and payment processes and treating more patients.
Closing the urgent care facility "is a terribly difficult decision," said board Chairman Joseph M. Ramos. "I had hoped the volumes would have a chance of at least getting to a break-even point within the foreseeable future, but even if we doubled our daily patient levels, we didn't see that it was possible to break even."
Loudoun Healthcare leased the space for the urgent care center in 1997 after it decided to move the county's hospital from Leesburg to Lansdowne, farther from Purcellville. The closing of the urgent care center is drawing sharp criticism from some western residents.
"It's just upsetting," said Purcellville Town Council member Paul D. Arbogast Sr. "Here the western end of the county is expanding and growing, and now it won't have an urgent care center.
"They came up here and asked for our support to move the hospital, and we went on blind faith and trust they would give us some sort of medical care facility," he said. "They did and now it's gone. It's just very discouraging."
Ruffolo said in his statement that a "high percentage of the treatments provided [at the center] were primary care in nature, with duplicated services offered by local physicians."
But many western residents said it is often hard to get last-minute appointments with doctors in their area because they are booked. "When you call a doctor out here, you've got to wait two to three weeks to get in," Arbogast said. "The urgent care center was just more convenient."
Ruffolo, head of a consulting team from Louisiana-based Pitts Management Associates Inc., said in his statement that the new budget is "evidence of recovery but that the turnaround in not complete. We must maintain a very vigilant process of innovative solutions and operational improvements that will be long-lasting."