In late June, Marshall County and the City of Plymouth issued a press release drawing attention to what has been viewed as a local public healthcare crisis as a result of St. Joseph Health System’s recent closure of physician practices throughout the county and the discontinuation of other medical services at the Plymouth hospital campus. Access to medical services is essential to the well-being of Marshall County residents and to our sustained growth and economic development. Many concerned citizens have raised their voices regarding the state of our local healthcare services. A group of local leaders have heard these concerns and formed the Local Healthcare Committee to carry the people’s message to the newly constituted hospital leadership governed by Loyola Medicine of Chicago and Trinity Health of Novi, Michigan. A meeting between Committee members and Loyola occurred on Friday, August 5, 2022.
The meeting, which took place at the hospital, marked the first time that Loyola President & CEO Shawn P. Vincent had visited the Plymouth-based facility that he has been leading through recent service reductions, including the closure of the Critical Care Unit, relocation of cardiac rehabilitation to Mishawaka, among others. Members of the Committee, many of which have provided the hospital’s now-disbanded local board of directors more than 85 years of collective service, shared with Mr. Vincent the outpouring of community concerns that they’ve received in recent months.
It was noted that while healthcare labor costs and supply expenses have significantly increased with no additional revenues from insurance or government payors, St. Joseph Health System-Plymouth has still been operating in the black. Yet, services are being diminished while more layers of highly paid healthcare executives are brought in as a result of Trinity’s regionalization strategy. The Committee expressed concern that decisions affecting Marshall County residents are being made remotely by those without first-hand knowledge of the community’s unique needs.
Marshall County Commissioner Kevin Overmyer noted that “One of the frustrations highlighted during the meeting was the failure of Loyola/Trinity to provide answers to the larger community’s questions about what has taken place with the discontinuation of services and doctors’ practices. Mr. Vincent suggested the possibility of local hospital administration being open with the general public by beginning to hold town hall meetings to provide some transparency as to Loyola’s plans for this hospital.” “The Committee welcomed that and looks forward to seeing it happen,” Commissioner Overmyer also stated.
“Communication and trust are the foundations of any strong relationship,” said Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter. “For years, our community has enjoyed a fantastic relationship with our local doctors, nurses, and staff at St. Joseph Health System – they’ve guided us through a pandemic, and they continue to fight for their neighbors’ health to this day. It’s my hope that St. Joseph’s new leadership will improve their communication and begin the work of rebuilding the community’s trust which has been diminished by recent actions,” added Mayor Senter.
The County and City leadership plan to continue working with the Local Healthcare Committee on maintaining the best available healthcare services for Marshall County. They know that many share their concerns and look forward to engaging others in the community to join in the Committee’s work.
Presently, the Local Healthcare Committee consists of the following members:
Past-Chair St. Joseph Health System – Plymouth Board, Sister Nora Hahn, PHJC
Past-Chair St. Joseph Health System – Plymouth Board, John J. Oliver, Sr.
Past-Member St. Joseph Health System – Plymouth Board, Samuel Schlosser
Past-Chair St. Joseph Health System – Plymouth & Mishawaka Boards, Harold L. (“Sonny”) Wyland
Dr. Joel Schumacher
Marshall County Board of Commissioners President Kevin Overmyer
Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter
Plymouth City Attorney Sean Surrisi