United General Seeks Alliance with PeaceHealth
United General Hospital and PeaceHealth announced today they have signed a non-binding letter of agreement to begin exploring and negotiating a more closely integrated relationship.
“An alliance between United General and PeaceHealth would bring financial stability to United General,” said Greg Reed, CEO/Superintendent at United General. “This is a very positive step that could strengthen our capacity to care for patients in our community.”
“Being invited by United to help strengthen community-based healthcare services in Public Hospital District 304 is an honor for PeaceHealth,” said Peter Adler, Senior Vice President for Strategy, Innovation and Development. “Responding to United’s request is what our Mission and Values guide us to do – to consider serving broader communities only when invited and only where there is a need for our services. We look forward to exploring this opportunity with United and the communities served by Hospital District 304.”
The letter of intent, the first formal step in the relationship-development process, allows the two healthcare systems to examine integration in greater detail. The two organizations expect to spend six months completing “due diligence” work before deciding if they will move forward with the signing of a definitive agreement, which would require regulatory review and approvals, as well as board approvals by United and PeaceHealth.
One of many scenarios to be evaluated is for PeaceHealth to manage and deliver services at United General. A wide range of possibilities and potential benefits will be researched by both organizations over the coming months.
“We know there are significant healthcare changes on the horizon with federal healthcare reform, and critical access hospitals like United must seek innovative ways to expand services while still driving down costs,” said Reed. “Due to the breadth and depth of services offered by PeaceHealth, as well as our very successful and growing existing relationship with PeaceHealth (including the PeaceHealth Medical Group clinic currently operating on the United campus), we invited PeaceHealth to help evaluate a broader range of alliance options to help maintain and grow the services we provide to our community. We feel strongly about keeping this hospital and our many clinics and community-based services vibrant.”
PeaceHealth is a Northwest-based not-for-profit health care system serving multiple rural and urban communities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. It operates three critical access hospitals in communities considered either small and/or remote, and is opening a fourth on San Juan Island in 2012. United is also a critical access hospital, a federal designation for healthcare facilities serving geographically isolated areas.
United began its initial discussions with PeaceHealth in early 2009, following an extensive review of several health care systems by the hospital's board. In May 2010, a PeaceHealth clinic was established on the United General campus, staffed by PeaceHealth Medical Group physicians who specialize in pulmonology, gastroenterology and sleep medicine.
“The PeaceHealth clinic has been met with a great deal of community support and has been highly successful,” said Reed. “It demonstrates how well our two organizations work together. It has proved to us that our missions and values are very similar.”
“Our focus is on creating networks of care that better serve all residents of our communities, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Nancy Steiger, CEO and Chief Mission Officer for Bellingham, Wash.-based PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, one of eight PeaceHealth hospitals serving communities across the Northwest. “We look forward to exploring a more extensive alliance with United that benefits the residents of Hospital District 304.”
A series of public meetings is being planned to gather community input; dates, times and locations will be posted at www.unitedgeneral.org and in local newspapers. For more information, contact Valerie Stafford, director of communications, at (360) 856-7323, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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United General Hospital serves the residents of Public Hospital District 304, one of the largest geographic hospital districts in the state with more than 2,300 square miles. The hospital has served the community since 1965, and prides itself on providing high quality, personalized care in a friendly, small-town environment. It was designated by the federal government as a critical access hospital in 2004 due to its rural location and importance in meeting the healthcare needs of the community. United General is governed by a five-member commission and employs approximately 400 individuals.
PeaceHealth is a Washington-based not-for-profit Catholic health care system with medical centers, critical access hospitals, medical groups and laboratories in Alaska, Washington and Oregon with approximately 15,000 caregivers (employees) and 78,000 inpatient admissions annually. Founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, PeaceHealth has provided health care services to Northwest communities for more than a century. PeaceHealth consistently receives national recognition for innovations in patient-centered care, patient safety and health care technology and cost efficiency. For more information, visit www.peacehealth.org.