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BJC to close competing hospital it purchased last year in Farmington

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Less than a year after purchasing the facility, BJC HealthCare is closing the doors of its former competitor in Farmington.

The 126-bed hospital, which was called the Mineral Area Regional Medical Center before its acquisition by BJC, is scheduled to cease operations at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. The facility will close completely no later than January 31, according to hospital officials in Farmington. 

BJC owns two other hospitals in St. Francois County: Farmington’s Parkland Health Center, which is undergoing renovations to accommodate more patients in its emergency room, and Parkland Health Center - Bonne Terre.  

The closure means that St. Francois County’s approximately 66,000 residents will lose one of three emergency rooms in the county, as well as the only behavioral health unit for people with severe mental illnesses.

Al Sullivan, a board member for the St. Francois County Ambulance District, said he’s concerned that the two remaining emergency rooms in the county will become overburdened with admissions. The district’s ambulances are already diverted to the St. Louis area or other hospitals about 300 times a month, he said. (The drive is about an hour). Patients seeking emergency care for a mental illness will likely need to travel even farther.

“To cut out that service completely, when you’re a monopolistic organization buying all three hospitals—that does not serve the public well,” Sullivan said.

In a press release from BJC, Parkland Health Center president Tom Karl wrote that he understood the impact of the decision and pointed to the renovations and expansion of a parking lot.

“It is important for us to acknowledge the emotion that some may experience around the closure of the hospital. We sincerely recognize the many lives that were touched by the dedicated caregivers, and we fully intend to honor the heritage of the former Mineral Area Regional Medical Center,” Karl wrote.

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