The Hospital Authority of Tift County, which owns and operates Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC), has entered into an agreement with SunLink Health Systems, Inc. to purchase Memorial Hospital of Adel and its affiliated nursing home and ancillary services. Tift Regional says they will be providing interim management until the transaction is finalized by July 2.
"We're proud to be affiliating with Tift Regional Medical Center and the hospital authority. We feel like this will strengthen our community relations," says Michael Purvis, CEO of Memorial Hospital of Adel.
The sale of Memorial TMs assets is $8.35 million and is subject to buyer due diligence.
"We saw it as an opportunity to expand our footprint at Tift regional and also capitalize on the strong relationship we have with that hospital," says Bill Richardson, President and CEO of Tift Regional.
Tift Regional representatives say there are no plans to increase fees at Memorial to offset the purchase. They say the overall goal is to provide a cost-value for patients and third-party payers. Tift Regional says their acquisition of Memorial will provide economies of scale between the two hospitals, and that by taking a system approach with Tift Regional and Memorial, the goal is to share resources, eliminate redundancies, restrain expenses and improve continuity and coordination of care.
Both Purvis and Richardson say the acquisition is an effect of the new federal healthcare implementations.
"All of us in healthcare and hospitals in specific are involved in some sort of a transition into the new model of healthcare delivery," says Richardson. "The acquisition of other smaller hospitals by health systems like Tift Regional is in concert with that line of thought meaning we will be required to deliver care over a much larger population."
Purvis says, "Across the nation you're seeing smaller rural facilities looking for an affiliation with a stronger home base or a bigger hospital to affiliate with. The reimbursement in government payers is driving us all to look at our efficiency and quality of care."
When Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany acquired Palmyra Medical Center, many community members strongly disagreed with the merger; so is Tift Regional Medical Center expecting a similar response?
"Well there could be, that's a good question. I think it's incumbent upon us to proactively seek discussion with them," says Richardson. "We will rely heavily on the input from citizens of that county through perhaps an advisory board to our own board to help us identify and prioritize the care that TMs needed in the community."
He says Memorial's 250 employees " physicians and administrators alike " are all expected to stay on staff.
As for specialty health care, Tift Regional and Memorial Hospital of Adel already do specialty rotations between locations, including neurology, psychology and orthopedic rotations.
"We will augment the specialty representation either through recruitment into that community or utilization of physicians from Tift going down," says Richardson.
Richardson also says they plan to convert ten of Adel TMs 60 beds into geropsychiatric beds for "psychosocial needs of Medicare population."
Based in Tifton with 1,700 employees, Tift Regional is a 191-bed, not-for-profit hospital owned and operated by the Tift County Hospital Authority and governed by a nine-member board of volunteer trustees appointed by the Tift County Board of Commissioners. TRMC is a self-sustaining healthcare institution and does not rely on financial support from county government.