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PeaceHealth wants to close Eugene's only hospital

A hospital building with a sign in front that says "PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center University District"
Rachael McDonald
PeaceHealth is proposing to close the University District Hospital and send all patients to a sister facility in Springfield.

Eugene could soon be without a hospital.

PeaceHealth announced Tuesday that it plans to close its University District Hospital in downtown Eugene and shift most services provided there to its RiverBend campus, located nearly six miles away in Springfield.

The closure requires regulatory approval, a process that PeaceHealth said is underway.

“As the needs of the Lane County community evolve, PeaceHealth services and sites of care also need to evolve to ensure compassionate, high-quality care now and in the future," said PeaceHealth University District chief administrative officer Alicia Beymer in a press release. "We believe consolidating some services at RiverBend will provide an enhanced care experience.”

PeaceHealth said the hospital is losing $2 million per month, and sees an average of 95 patient visits daily. The University District location has an emergency department and inpatient rehabilitation, but does not offer some traditional hospital services such as maternity care or surgery. Those services will continue to be offered at the RiverBend location, which opened in 2008.

The announcement was a shock to nurses working at the facility, who recently negotiated a new contract.

"We like working there," said Kevyn Paul, a charge nurse who's worked at University District for more than 30 years. "We're a very cohesive team, and that's just going to be ripped apart."

The Oregon Nurses Association said it's "strongly opposed" to the potential closure.

"We are calling upon management to reverse this decision, which we believe is dangerous and irresponsible, immediately," said ONA chief of staff Scott Palmer.

According to PeaceHealth, the University District Emergency Department could be shuttered as soon as November. Other services will likely follow in 2024, pending approval from the state.

PeaceHealth spokesperson Sherri Buri McDonald declined to be interviewed by KLCC about the announcement.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018 and became News Director in March, 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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