Pandemic’s Fiscal Bite Forces Fairview Health To Close Clinics, Slash Jobs

Others in the news include the nation’s Catholic health system, Hendrick Health System, Shannon Health System, Community Health Systems, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Novant Health, Walden Biosciences, ARCH Venture Partners, UCB Ventures and Virta Health.

Fairview Health To Close 16 Clinics, Cut 900 Jobs

A Minneapolis health care system says the coronavirus pandemic has caused deep operating losses, forcing it to close 16 clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin and reduce its workforce by 900 employees. Fairview Health also plans to shut down Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul that had been handling COVID-19 patients and transfer that care to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Inpatient mental health care will continue at the downtown St. Paul hospital at least through 2021. (10/6)

Modern Healthcare:
Catholic Health System Growth Threatens Patient Access, Advocacy Group Argues

Catholic health system has significantly grown in the U.S. since 2001, a trend that could hamper patients’ ability to access some healthcare services that are prohibited by the church, according to a report released Tuesday. The consumer advocacy group Community Catalyst found the 10 largest Catholic health systems control 394 short-term, acute-care hospitals, a 50% increase since 2001. In a growing number of communities, researchers found residents’ only acute-care options are hospitals that operate under Catholic restrictions. (Bannow, 10/6)

North Carolina Health News:
New Hanover Commissioners OK Hospital Sale 

The biggest county-owned hospital system in the state is about to change hands, pending review by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. If approved, the sale is expected to be finalized early next year, the hospital said in the statement. In a historic 4-1 vote earlier this week, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners decided to sell New Hanover Regional Medical Center and its facilities to Novant Health, under an agreement that would net the county roughly $2 billion. (Engel-Smith, 10/7)

Modern Healthcare:
Texas Regulators OK Hospital Mergers Opposed By FTC

Texas regulators have green lighted a pair of hospital mergers using a method that allows the providers to dodge a federal antitrust challenge. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has approved Certificates of Public Advantage to allow Hendrick Health System and Shannon Health System to buy hospitals from for-profit Community Health Systems. That’s despite strong warnings from the Federal Trade Commission that the deals would create monopolies that drive up costs, lower quality and diminish access to services. Hendrick and Shannon will be the only acute-care hospital operators in Abilene and San Angelo once the deals close. (Bannow, 10/6)

Boston Globe:
Biotech Looking To Fight Kidney Disease Launches With $51 Million

A Cambridge biotech that’s working on drugs to reverse kidney disease — rather than merely slow its progression ― was unveiled Tuesday after raising $51 million in venture capital. Walden Biosciences was created by Chicago-based ARCH Venture Partners and UCB Ventures, of Belgium. Both venture capital firms funnel early-stage funding to promising startups. (Saltzman, 10/6)

Health Coaching Startup Virta Expands Into Prediabetes And Obesity

Virta Health, a San Francisco startup that has made headlines with bold claims that it can “reverse” type 2 diabetes, announced plans Wednesday to expand its offerings, including new services for patients with prediabetes. The virtual care platform — which connects patients with health coaches over laptops and smartphones — is adding new programs that target obesity and prediabetes, citing early research that suggests its approach could benefit people with those conditions as well. The company is also adding a line of services geared at people with type 2 diabetes who are not yet ready to pursue reversal, but want support in managing their medications and symptoms. (Brodwin, 10/7)

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