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OSF, RMH sign letter of intent for merger
Posted By Staff On May 14, 2010 @ 5:02 pm In Happening Now | No Comments
By Stuart R. Wahlin
During a joint press conference May 14, top brass from OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center and Rockford Memorial Hospital (RMH) discussed the proposed acquisition of RMH by Peoria-based OSF HealthCare.
Gary Kaatz and Dave Schertz, presidents and CEOs of Rockford Health System and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, respectively, indicated a letter of intent had been signed, asserting the merger would be a win-win for both organizations, and for residents of the region.
“This is about strengthening Rockford as a regional destination for health care,” Schertz asserted, noting the two sides had been in discussions for about 10 months before reaching the letter of intent.
Kaatz, meantime, pledged RMH’s continued commitment to its west-side campus.
“We’re looking now to do due diligence, and hopefully by the fall be in a position to sit down and decide one way or the other whether we make a decision on this,” he reported.
“I think the excitement is down the road in terms of what can be offered, and with the two organizations coming together—if that happens—we will be able to have a large physician group, where it will be easier for us to attract the physicians, especially those in sub-specialty areas,” Kaatz explained. “Obviously, going forward, whether it’s Medicare or Medicaid, or commercial insurers, I’m not sure that hefty price increases are in the picture. If you look actually at the impact of national health reform, payment might be actually dropping, if not stabilizing. And so, I think we’re looking at the ability to get a different handle on our cost structure and, overall, hopefully, all those things combined will increase accessibility for residents not only in Rockford, but for also in the greater region.”
The proposal came as little surprise as similar merger discussions have taken place among the city’s three hospitals in recent decades, but Kaatz and Schertz agreed the time has never been better for restructuring. Schertz, however, said he doesn’t foresee employee reductions as a result of the new model.
“Quite frankly, we think this provides a much more stable employment platform. This makes us the largest employer in the region,” he noted. “That strength, we think, will be reassuring to folks going forward.”
Asked whether they expect philosophical complications resulting from RMH’s proposed acquisition by religious-based OSF, differences were downplayed.
“They both start from the same place,” Schertz asserted. “It’s about serving people, so you play off the commonalities, and then you work into the differences. And quite frankly, they’re not as great as you might think. I mean, we both have employees who have worked at each other’s organizations. We have a common set of values. It’s about putting the patient first. It’s about being respectful to your co-workers. You start with all that and, quite frankly, we think those will be overcome.”
Kaatz concurred, “I think cultural integration…is going to be key, but we have found a commonality not only in mission, but also in values.”
A statement of response to the proposed merger from SwedishAmerican Hospital was not immediately available.
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