Grinnell’s local hospital, Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC), is considering becoming more fully integrated into the Mercy Health Network of Iowa to increase the city’s healthcare options. The hospital’s board signed a letter of intent with Mercy Health Network this September in order to begin discussions regarding the benefits of transitioning to a closer affiliation.
“Although nothing changes today—and may not—our board believes it is time to investigate whether now is the right time to develop a stronger relationship with Mercy,” GRMC’s CEO and president Todd Linden wrote in a press release from the hospital recently.
GRMC’s initial affiliation with Mercy began on July 1, 2009, and since then the hospital has shared best practices and contracted services with Mercy network hospitals.
A task force has been put together to consider options for the future of GRMC’s relationship with Mercy. Members of GRMC’s board, as well as an MD and the vice president of operations, are among those on the task force.
“The discussion is focusing on how the organizations may work closer together to strengthen access to care and enhance quality and clinical efficiency. We are also exploring new delivery system models and payment programs consistent with the incentives in the Affordable Care Act and healthcare reform in general,” said Todd Reding, GRMC board chair, in the press release.
“We do not know what the headline will say after the conversations are completed,” he added. “What we do know is that we are committed to providing quality care consistent with the needs of our community. Our ability to do this successfully is reliant on a progressive system that is viable in our new healthcare environment. We are actively looking at new models so that our medical center can remain the amazing institution it is today.”
GRMC said that a potential pro of a stronger affiliation with Mercy would be an increase in capital resources, which could help sustain and grow Grinnell’s medical services.
“The letter of intent allows the leaders of both organizations to discuss specific terms about the possibility of integrating GRMC more fully into the Mercy system as either a ‘managed hospital’ or an ‘owned hospital’ in the network,” Reding wrote in a note as part of GRMC’s fall newsletter.
Reding’s note highlighted what he sees as the clear benefits of a strengthened relationship, listing Mercy’s proven track record, its focus on community health care and its forward-thinking ethos.
“We also believe Mercy has the potential to benefit from a closer relationship with GRMC,” Reding wrote. “Our hospital is a nationally recognized rural leader in patient satisfaction, innovation, quality and safety. In fact, in the current Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services patient satisfaction report, GRMC excels over area hospitals in cleanliness, nurse and physician communication, pain control and responsiveness.”
Neither Redding’s note nor the press release laid out a timeline for when decisions will be made, but it was made clear that both Redding and Linden were available to members of the community who had further questions.