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Ohio base pressured to fill more hospital beds

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's largest military base is under pressure by the U.S. Department of Defense to fill more beds in its hospital.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton needs to boost the use of its 62-bed inpatient hospital, where the occupancy rate has been about 45 percent. The hospital has set a 70 percent rate as a new benchmark for the hospital, which is the second-largest in the Air Force.

The Defense Health Agency is evaluating health services throughout the military as budgets shrink and numbers of service members in uniform decline. The hospital could be in for some major changes if the numbers continue to fall.

There are no plans to close the hospital, but its status will be re-evaluated next year, Pentagon spokesman Maj. James Brindle told the Dayton Daily News in an email (http://bit.ly/1rX7DWl ).

"The study is looking at maximizing efficiencies at certain facilities in 2014, and others, like Wright-Patterson Medical Center, in 2015," Brindle said.

Wright-Patterson spokeswoman Marie Vanover said in an email that the study is about "right-sizing" military treatment facilities, adding that "at this time, we cannot speculate on what may happen in October 2015."

In the midst of a $115 million, multiyear renovation, the center has about a $140 million budget, 2,100 employees and treats tens of thousands of patients every year.

If the hospital were closed, it would have a major impact on jobs, according to an Air Force Medical Operations Agency report released to the Dayton Daily News through the Freedom of Information Act. About 250 staff members would be reassigned and another 250 medical students trained annually at the base hospital would be impacted, the report said.

 

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