MERCED -- Mercy Medical Center's Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center will close its doors Aug. 31, a sudden turn of events that caught some of the employees by surprise.
Dr. Shahroukh Bakhsay said he just started working at the center about a month ago, relocating from Kentucky after going through a job application process that took about six months.
Bakhsay said he was notified about the center shutting down last week.
"What can you say? You're just blindsided," he said. "I had no idea this was in the works."
As of June 2011, the center had healed about 8,000 wounds, according to a previous interview with Alicia Bohlke, former director of the center. The wounds treated there are caused by many conditions including diabetes, blood circulatory problems and burns from radiation therapy.
Josh Skunca, director of the center, declined to answer questions Thursday and referred inquiries to Bob McLaughlin, hospital spokesman.
McLaughlin said that when the center opened in 2006, hospital officials were optimistic it would meet the needs of patients and would become financially viable.
"However, the reality of today's operating environment, with declining reimbursements, have forced us to close the center."
400 patients per month
McLaughlin said he didn't know how much the operating costs were for the center, and if he did know, that's information the hospital wouldn't release.
Regarding the reimbursement rates, he said they vary for every patient and didn't have specific numbers.
Bakhsay said the center sees about 400 patients a month.
All patients have been notified that the center will close, but it will continue to treat them until the last day, McLaughlin said.
Patients seeking wound care services in town can contact the Merced Faculty Associates Wound Center in Merced. There are wound care services in Modesto and Fresno, McLaughlin added.
"We're doing everything we can to make sure patients continue on with their care," he said.
The center also offers hyperbaric medicine, but only 2 percent of the patients used that service, McLaughlin said. "Most of the patients received the wound services," he said.
Last year, the center received a national award based on healing rates, patient satisfaction and clinical quality outcomes.
The center has seven full-time and three part-time employees.
Mercy's human resources team will be working with each one to determine if there are positions available locally or elsewhere within the Dignity Health system, Mercy's parent company, McLaughlin said.
"We met with the Wound Center staff and physicians and want to express our gratitude for the years of dedicated service that they have provided to our patients and to the Merced community," he said.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or email@example.com.