About 800 employees of Homewood Hospital Center South were to learn officially today that the hospital will close, a hospital official said.
"But the closure will not take place for at least two months after the employees get notices in the mail sometime this week," said Edward Chambers, vice president for operations of Homewood, the former North Charles General Hospital.
Homewood, now functioning as an acute-care hospital, could be the first hospital in the state to shut down, falling victim to a fiscal crunch that has closed hundreds of hospitals across the country.
Homewood, which operates under umbrella of the Johns Hopkins Health System, represents a 1988 merger of the former Wyman Park Public Health Services Hospital and the former North Charles General Hospital on North Charles Street. Wyman Park became Homewood Hospital Center North in the merger.
It was not immediately clear whether there are any plans to keep the hospital to serve in some other health-related capacity. Homewood Hospital Center North is unaffected by the closure plans, Chambers said.
"Every effort will be made to place the employees at Homewood Hospital Center North, Francis Scott Key Medical Center, the Johns Hopkins Hospital and other area hospitals," he said. "We think highly of our workers; they are very employable."
The affected employees primarily include nurses, social workers, support services and administration.
"During the next two months, patients will be discharged in a normal fashion and, at some point, admissions will be cut off," Chambers said.
Meetings with employees were scheduled this afternoon at the hospital.
Homewood South ended its last fiscal year with a $3.7 million loss, according to a recent financial disclosure by the Health Services Cost Review Commission. Just last week, John M. Colmers, commission's executive director, said, "Homewood is a high-cost hospital that has to become more efficient."
Chambers said he believes "we will be able to keep the Homewood Hospital Center North afloat, because it has a separate mission."
At Homewood Hospital Center North, a large clinic run by the Wyman Park Medical Associates, a 100-member physicians' group, serves a military population under a government contract with the Department of Defense and health maintenance organization patients. The same building also operates psychiatric and addiction units.
Homewood Hospital Center North is experiencing an increase in outpatients, but Homewood South has been seeing a decline in bed occupancy.
Both hospitals have been under review by the Hunter Group, a consultant firm studying downsizing and restructuring of the Homewood Hospital Center.
Joann Rodgers, deputy public relations officer at Johns Hopkins Hospital, would not confirm or deny reports of the closure. She said the Johns Hopkins Health System would have a statement later today regarding any closure plans.
James Stanton, executive director of the Health Services Planning Commission, said the health system has not filed a request for exemption from certificate of need, which must be filed if the hospital closes.
"We have not had it yet, but are expecting to get it," he said.