Update: Hospital options

December 2014 Posted in News

By Kristine Thomas

Silverton Health Board of Directors Chair Gayle Goschie is hopeful she can announce by February who Silverton Health has chosen as its partner.

This fall, Goschie said the board made the decision Silverton Health can no longer operate independently and move forward to meet the needs of the community.

“The board realized it’s not fiscally responsible to stay independent,” Goschie said. “It was a tough decision for the board to make, but it was the right decision to make.”

Although Goschie confirmed the board has decided a nonprofit healthcare organization partner is preferable, she could not say who the board is considering. The list started with eight to 10 organizations and has been narrowed, she said. Both Goschie and Silverton Health President/CEO Rick Cagen said a partner had not been chosen as of early December.

“We are still at the point where we are hammering things down,” she said. “We can’t talk about who the partnership options are because it would be unfair for people to speculate.”

Cagen acknowledges there has been speculation about Providence Health, particularly since Silverton Health entered into a memorandum of understanding about two years ago to work closely with Providence for better efficiency of services. Silverton Health has had a working relationship with Providence for 20 years.

Cagen said Providence was on the initial list. Citing the advice of the hospital’s attorney, Cagen added it would be inappropriate to say which healthcare organizations are currently being considered.

Goschie emphasized the changing economies of healthcare has made it difficult for Silverton Health to remain independent. If it were to do so, the hospital would continue to struggle financially, she said.

“The only way for the hospital to survive is if we have a partner,” Goschie said. “Our community deserves more than us surviving.”

During the entire process, Goschie said the board has done its due diligence and looked at what criteria it believes would make a strong partner.

“We are not just looking at what would be the most obvious, such as what is the closest system to us,” Goschie said.

“We are looking at all the options. Silverton Health has a certain way of doing business and we have been successful at meeting patients’ needs and we want a partner who will continue to do that.”

Cagen said there are three basic components Silverton Health is looking for in a partner.

“We are looking for a partner who has a similar mission and values as we do,” Cagen said. “We are also looking for a partner who is financially strong.”

Cagen said Silverton Health needs to invest $20 million to upgrade technology – from computers to medical equipment.

“We also want a partner that is stable and will be in a long term partnership with us,” he said.

Cagen and Goschie said it’s also important to select a partner that will allow the board to maintain local control.

When asked if there would be personnel changes likely with the shift, Cagen said his job would not be needed.

“I think a hospital of this size does not need a CEO of my caliber and does not need a CEO,” Cagen said, adding he sees one CEO managing three or four hospitals. He said changes in personnel will take place where services are duplicated, adding he does not foresee a change in medical staff.

“I don’t think it is going to be any different than what we are doing now,” Goschie said. “”What has made us successful as a hospital is we are connected to the community. Why would we want to partner with someone who would want to do anything different than that?”

Cagen said the first step in forming a partnership would be the board to send a letter of interest to the healthcare organization. From there it would take eight to 10 months to work out the details of a letter of intent, which outlines each detail of the partnership. At any time, either party could walk away and the partnership isn’t final until it is signed by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

Goschie said it’s been a difficult process to make the decision to partner but it’s also a necessary one.

“We are not only looking at what we need today to serve our neighbors and families but to the untold future,” Goschie said. “The board is very positive to be able to continue to provide excellent healthcare for our community.”

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