Carthage And Watertown Hospitals Announce Affiliation Plans

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Carthage Area Hospital and Samaritan Medical Center have announced plans to form an affiliation.

Under the plan, Carthage Area Hospital (CAH) will apply to become a "Critical Access Hospital," according to a news release.

Critical Access Hospitals are described as hospitals which are certified to receive "cost-based reimbursement" from the federal government's Medicare program. 

This reimbursement is intended to improve their financial performance and reduce hospital closures. 

Leadership and boards of both hospitals, as well as representatives from the New York State Department of Health, have been in discussions about how Samaritan Medical Center (SMC) could assist CAH to stabilize its finances, as well as to create a collaborative partnership to enhance the healthcare delivery system for the region.

"This is an affiliation. It's not a merger. It's not a takeover. It's an affiliation," said Natalie Burnham, CHA marketing director.

According to SMC spokeswoman Kirsta Kittle, Samaritan will switch from a "passive parent" model to an "active parent" role.

Under new model, all of the entities owned by SMC and CAH will be governed by a single yet-to-be created umbrella organization, she said.

"It would be a board that oversees all of the Samaritan affiliates, whether it be Samaritan Medical Center, Samaritan Keep Home," said Kittle.

The news comes in the wake of CAH's announcement in January that it planned to lay off 73 people and consolidate its critical care unit and the medical, surgical, pediatric unit from 30 to 10 beds.

Officials later revised the number of layoffs, saying 28 people were retained through reoganization.

That brought the number of layoffs to 44.

According to a news release from the hospitals, the talks have resulted in memorandum of mnderstanding, which establishes a contractual relationship between the two organizations that will ultimately result in a formal affiliation.

Due diligence and Certificates of Need are required in order to finalize the affiliation, a process likely to take 12 to 18 months.

Now that the memorandum of understanding is in place, the hospitals essentially will act as affiliates during this extensive formalization process.

"Our management teams will work closely together over the next several months to explore options and to identify strategies to enhance the long-term viability of Carthage Area Hospital and healthcare in the region," said Carthage Area Hospital Chief Executive Officer Adil Ameer in a news release.

One strategy has already been identified.

Carthage Area Hospital will apply to become a Critical Access Hospital.

This designation will help enhance the reimbursement rates that the hospital receives for its services.

"Both organizations play crucial roles in the community in terms of access to healthcare services and economic impact," said SMC President and CEO Thomas Carman in a news release.  "It is critical to the entire North Country that we work together to develop a long-term solution for a sustainable healthcare system throughout the region. This is the first step to accomplishing that goal."

Under the deal, Ameer will step down as Carthage Area Hospital's CEO to serve as a consultant, effective Monday.

The role of Carthage CEO will remain unfilled until the formal affiliation is finalized, according to the news release.

If Carthage becomes a Critical Access Hospital, it will join River Hospital in Alexandria Bay, Clifton-Fine Hospital in Star Lake and Gouverneur Hospital in having that designation.

 

Friday, October 31, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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