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Published on August 11, 2014

Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon to Close Oct. 31

COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri Health Care will close Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon, effective Oct. 31.

MRC employees were notified of the closing today in meetings at Mt. Vernon.

“After careful consideration and in light of recent changes in the health care environment, MU Health Care has made the difficult decision to close Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon, effective Oct. 31,” said Mitch Wasden, chief executive officer and chief operating officer of MU Health Care.

The Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon currently has 24 inpatients, with capacity for 130.

MRC has a total of 323 employees, including 265 full-time employees, 14 part-time benefit-eligible employees and 44 part-time, non-benefit-eligible employees.

“Our first priority today, and in the next three months, will be ensuring continuity of care for our patients and supporting the employees of Missouri Rehabilitation Center,” Wasden said. “We will work closely with other long-term acute-care centers and rehabilitation centers around the state to ensure all MRC patients receive the care they need. For MRC employees, we will be providing transition pay and benefits as well as transition assistance, including priority consideration for other jobs within MU Health Care.”

Wasden said MU Health Care’s decision to close Missouri Rehabilitation Center is based on a number of factors, including:

  • expanded access to long-term rehabilitative care offered by 12 newer, competing long-term care facilities in Missouri, including two newer facilities approximately 40 miles from Mt. Vernon in Springfield and Joplin, Missouri;
  • the decade-long decline in patient volumes at MRC;
  • the uncertainty of state funding that makes it difficult to successfully manage and staff a hospital and strategically plan for the future in a rapidly changing health care environment. This year, Wasden said, the General Assembly appropriated $10.4 million for MRC, the governor vetoed $5.2 million of the appropriation, and it is possible there could be a veto override and/or subsequent withholding of the MRC funds this fall. During the past five years, MRC has received state appropriations of approximately $10 million annually.
  • a very old physical plant in Mt. Vernon that needs extensive and expensive repairs and upkeep.

The Missouri Rehabilitation Center at Mt. Vernon has not operated at full capacity for the past decade. Although it has the capacity for 130 inpatients, the daily census averaged 41.92 in fiscal year 2010; 40.44 in fiscal year 2011; 35.38 in fiscal year 2012; 29.40 in fiscal year 2013; and 28.66 in fiscal year 2014.

MU Health Care officials also planned to meet with Veterans Affairs officials in Mt. Vernon today to discuss the needs of the VA outpatient clinic, which leases 35,000 square feet of space from MRC to operate a primary care, community-based outpatient clinic. Under terms of the lease, MRC also provides some additional services such as sleep studies, pain management, radiology and laboratory services to the VA clinic, as well as housekeeping, security, utilities and maintenance. The VA’s lease with MU Health Care runs through Oct. 31.

“The Missouri Rehabilitation Center has a long and distinguished history,” Wasden said. “Our employees at MRC are the reason we have been able to provide exceptional care to patients over the years. The skills, dedication and compassion of the employees at the Missouri Rehabilitation Center have changed thousands of lives for the better.

“During this transition, MU Health Care will help MRC’s skilled and talented workforce find other jobs if they choose,” Wasden said. “We anticipate that many staff at MRC will be offered other open positions within University of Missouri Health Care.”

MU Health Care will provide transition assistance to MRC employees including:

  • transition pay and benefits to MRC employees
  • priority consideration for jobs within MU Health Care
  • a dedicated recruitment section on MU Health Care’s website
  • informational forums and networking with other potential employers, including other University of Missouri campuses
  • on-site career fairs, and one-on-one coaching and assistance with job applications and resume preparation.

MRC’s 323 employees include 156 clinical staff, 130 support staff, six physicians and 31 administrators/managers.


About the Missouri Rehabilitation Center

Founded by the state of Missouri in 1907 as a tuberculosis hospital, Missouri Rehabilitation Center housed TB patients from throughout the state until new medications helped decrease the need to hospitalize patients. Coinciding with the decline in TB was an increase in other lung diseases, brought on by a larger population and a greater incidence of smoking.

In 1971, the Missouri General Assembly expanded the mission of the institution to include all types of cardiac and pulmonary diseases, including emphysema, bronchitis, bronchiectasis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), among others. The name was changed to Missouri State Chest Hospital.

Again, over time, medical advances shortened lengths of stay for these diseases. The success of treatments at Missouri State Chest Hospital, along with new regulations by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers, brought about a decline in patient census similar to the decline experienced by other hospitals throughout the nation. By the 1980s, it was apparent the hospital was ready for a new direction.

In 1985, the Missouri General Assembly again changed the facility’s name and mission. This time, it would answer the needs of those who were seriously impaired through accident or injury and who had the capacity for improvement through extensive rehabilitation. General physical rehabilitation programs were begun in late 1985, and the hospital opened its traumatic brain injury (TBI) program in January 1986.

In 1996, ownership of MRC was transferred to University of Missouri Health Care by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Over the past decade, the number of long-term acute care patients at MRC has steadily declined, due in large part to the growth in the number of competing facilities that provide similar long-term care and rehabilitation services.


About University of Missouri Health Care

As part of the state’s premier academic medical center, University of Missouri Health Care offers a full spectrum of care, ranging from primary care to highly specialized, multidisciplinary treatment for patients with the most severe illnesses and injuries. Patients from each of Missouri’s 114 counties are served by approximately 6,000 physicians, nurses and health care professionals at MU Health Care. MU Health Care facilities include Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, the Missouri Psychiatric Center, University Hospital, and Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Columbia, and the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon. More than 50 MU Health Care outpatient clinics in central Missouri receive outpatient visits exceeding 500,000 annually.