Prescription for Success: St. Clair Hospital Prospers in Tough Climate

Community hospitals do more than provide access to medical care

Community hospitals are struggling, partly because of low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and private insurers’ emphasis on outpatient care.

Yet St. Clair Hospital is prospering in this dog-eat-dog world despite its proximity to the big health care institutions in Pittsburgh. That’s good news for the South Hills — the hospital is located in Mt. Lebanon — and St. Clair’s success offers hope for other community hospitals, too.

As the Post-Gazette’s Kris B. Mamula reported Sunday, St. Clair finished the 2018 fiscal year with a remarkable operating margin of 12.2 percent. That’s up 23 percent from 2017 and leaps and abounds ahead of the 4.6 operating margin that is the average among Western Pennsylvania hospitals.

St. Clair, still an independent hospital, has found its niches and it’s leveraging them well. It’s seeing higher demand for heart care, including catheterization and surgery, and it’s experiencing robust interest in obstetrical care, partly due to the closure of Monongahela Valley Hospital’s maternity unit and the desire of some parents-to-be to avoid delivering at Pittsburgh hospitals. St. Clair plans to keep abreast of market demand by building a new outpatient center on its Bower Hill Road campus, and it’s expanded its expertise through partnership with other independent hospitals.

Community hospitals do more than provide access to medical care. They provide employment, partner with other groups on civic initiatives and give their communities cachet. In St. Clair’s success other hospitals might find help for what ails them.

By The Editorial Board – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette