Ninfa Saunders, FACHE, president and CEO of Central Georgia Health System, said the arrangement improves "our ability to try to be able to manage the health of the population by increasing community access, keeping healthcare local, and supporting the local hospital."
Not a Merger
Saunders stressed that the agreement is not a merger, but if relationships between hospitals were seen as a spectrum from loose affiliation to full integration, "this is really an arrangement to look at a joint venture, to look at economies of scale. This is more like right in the middle. It's not a merger/acquisition."
Saunders said it's important for the organizations going forward to understand the costs of whatever projects they undertake as a non-equity collaboration with three goals in mind.
The first is to look at where gaps may be and attempt to fill those gaps together. The second involves looking at health information technology to see if there are opportunities for a data repository to share information on patients that both systems now serve.
The third is a strategic initiative "to define the partnership based on very specific identifiable programs for a particular market," in the large, 30-county service area, portion of which both systems now cover.