Memorial Regional Health affiliates with SCL Health St. Mary’s
CRAIG — A new affiliation between health care systems promises to preserve the independence of small-town medicine while backing that independence with the power and resources of a much larger medical system.
A new collaborative health care agreement between SCL Health St. Mary’s and Memorial Regional Health formalizes a decades-old affiliation between the two health systems and in less than 24 hours, is already paying dividends for the local medical system.
The agreement was unanimously approved Thursday by the MRH Board of Trustees.
“Let me assure you that we are not for sale. Decisions for what we do and where we go as an organization are still ours; our Board of Trustees is still governing this institution, and we all remain employees or MRH,” said MRH CEO Andy Daniels in a room filled with staff, board, and invited guests when the official announcement was made Friday morning at The Memorial Hospital.
The most immediate result of the new affiliation will be the ability for MRH to replace “our disconnected computer systems” with EPIC — a patient records system — that will be acquired by leveraging SCL Health’s investment in the system at a savings of about $5 million dollars through the next five years, according to Daniels.
A leadership steering committee convened after the announcement to consider a long list of additional opportunities that would see the smaller MRH leverage the power of the larger health care system, such as for group purchasing opportunities and reference lab services for “better prices, turn around, and services,” said MRH Vice President of Operations Jennifer Riley.
Patients stand to gain access to a wider range of providers and possibly, using telehealth and other technologies, the ability to receive those services in Moffat County.
“I think patients of these communities want to stay in the community as much as possible. There is a lot of care very appropriate to deliver here,” said President/CEO of SCL Health Lydia Jumonville.
For SCL Health St. Mary’s, the agreement provides “the security to know that we have trusted partners that will work with us to keep those (advanced level) services and referral patterns with us and patient services close to home,” said St. Mary’s President Dr. Brian Davidson.
About a third of SCL Health St. Mary’s patients are from referral hospitals, including MRH, so formalizing partnerships with regional providers should reduce uncertainty for the larger health system and provide the incentive to develop shared services.
Affiliation is also seen as a way for MRH to remain independent in light of pressures on rural health care.
“Rural health care is tough. I firmly believe that this affiliation will allow us to remain independent for a good long time … having a much larger partner behind us to give us some advice and resources when we need it will allow us to be your independent health care system for a long time to come,” Daniels said. “Here is the bottom line message: We are stronger together to serve our community better.”
The official announcement was live-streamed on Facebook and may be viewed at facebook.com/memorialregionalhealth/videos/679384245757589/.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.