GALLIPOLIS — Earlier this year, two major area health care providers merged in a deal that medical professionals say will translate into real improvements in patient care.
In March, Holzer Medical Center purchased Holzer Clinic and the two entities became known as Holzer Health System. It was a move to eliminate the duplication of services – and competition – in local health care providers.
In the process, the entities transitioned from private for-profit businesses to a public non-profit organization.
“The merger has allowed our organizations to bring together a network of talented professionals, both providers and staff, to enhance our inpatient and outpatient care services,” said Karrie Swain Davison, Holzer Communications Coordinator. “Joining the advanced technology and strengths of several departments and alleviating the competition that formerly existed between our two entities [has] allowed us to streamline our health care processes, providing a more efficient health care system for our communities.”
Dr. T. Wayne Munro, Holzer CEO, said the integrated health system is going to be able to provide a continuum of care that lasts from birth throughout life — and throughout a number of different health care environments.
The new entity links two hospital locations in Gallipolis and Jackson, fifteen regional clinical locations, a dental care facility, long term care entities including a senior care facility and assisted living establishments, Holzer Cancer Care, Holzer Cardiovascular Institute, Holzer Weight Loss Solutions, Holzer Center for Joint Replacement and 150 providers with more than 30 medical specialties.
Munro said the federal government is pushing for organizations to work together in this manner in order to be able to better track patients and manage their care over time. He said patients will have a better experience because of streamlined access to medical records.
“Wherever patients are we can follow them and make the transition seamless from one health care situation to another,” Munro explained.
Holzer officials say there are other benefits, as well.
“Expansion of community health opportunities as well as professional development opportunities for staff has been enhanced,” Davison said. “We are able to utilize our services more efficiently and educate our staff on what our system can offer for our communities. We are a new regional system that reaches into the larger metropolitan areas of our region, including Athens, Charleston, Huntington and all the areas in between.”
Board Chairman Brent Saunders declined to respond to questions regarding the financial considerations behind the deal. Citing advice from health system attorneys, Saunders would not disclose the amount paid for the buyout. However, he explained that the health system could not pay more than fair market value for the assets involved and that “all due diligence was done”.
Saunders said one of the driving forces behind the merger was to stop duplicating services and begin operating more efficiently.
“With health care moving in the way that has been in the past few years, it is imperative that we are able to combine our systems in order to provide outstanding health care services for our communities,” Davison said.
Saunders said Holzer is anticipating three areas of growth in the near future: the opening of a trauma center, a wound care center designation in Jackson and the opening of a geriatric psychiatric unit.
Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part story on the effects of the new Holzer Health System merger. The second article will be published in an upcoming edition of The Gallipolis Daily Tribune.