• 57°

KDMC CEO calls OLBH closure ‘a challenge’

On Tuesday, King’s Daughter Health System CEO and president Kristie Whitlatch sent out a letter to area community leaders updating them on what has been happening at KDMC in the wake of the announced closure of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in September.

“The past few weeks have been challenging to say the least,” she wrote. “But we have rolled up our sleeves and gotten to work to develop plans to manage this change.”

Whitlatch said the first priority has been access to care for local patients and a special 24/7 phone line, 606-408-CARE (2273), has been set up for patients to get in contact with new medical providers and to transfer medical records.

“We know patients are eager to stay with the providers they’ve known for years. We want to make that happen. We are working to bring OLBH physicians and providers onto the King’s Daughters medical staff as quickly as possible,” Whitlatch said. “But physician/provider credentialing is a rigorous process, regardless of how long someone has served the community. I’m happy to report that we are making progress and you will see some good news shortly.”

She said that as for the jobs for the staff at OLBH, KDMC’s initial focus has been on hiring clinical positions to care for patients.

“We have held multiple job fairs and meet-and-greets. Our team has conducted more than 700 interviews to date and has extended job offers to several hundred people,” she said. “As we see utilization increase, we will move to hire non-clinical and support positions.”

Whitlatch said she has toured various OLBH facilities in the area and KDMC is developing plans, but said there was nothing to share about potential plans at this point.

“Keeping jobs in Greenup, Carter, Lawrence and surrounding areas is important economically. We also know convenient access to care means better health. That’s one reason we have worked so hard over the years to develop a wide network of primary and specialty care locations in eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio,” she said. “I know there are lots of questions. To be honest, we feel the pressure and want to move quickly. But we must invest the time, energy and resources required to develop sustainable solutions for all of our communities. King’s Daughters must balance its response in a way that cares for our communities and preserves our financial stability.”

She said that in the near future, there will be a Leaders Healthcare forum and she would be able to share more details and answer questions at that time.