WARNER ROBINS -- Houston Healthcare and The Medical Center of Central Georgia announced Tuesday they are starting a collaboration that they say will bring better and cheaper health care to the region.
Its not a merger, and the two will remain separate operations, leaders of both organizations said in a news conference at Houston Medical Center.
Ninfa Saunders, CEO and president of the Central Georgia Health System, the parent organization of the Medical Center, said the collaboration is just starting, and specifics of how the two might work together are still being discussed. Initially it will at least involve joint training and education. Also, when one or the other may be looking at adding a new service, they can communicate to avoid duplication.
We have the ability to try to get together for the purpose of having the right care and right access for the benefit of the community, she said. Today simply marks our desire to move forward with this strategic partnership.
Cary Martin, CEO of Houston Healthcare, said the agreement originated from discussions of what the medical community can do to help Robins Air Force Base be better positioned in the event of a Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
Having a comprehensive cooperative medical community is a key thing that BRAC commissioners want to see, Martin said. We realize we have a lot of common ground and a lot of assets we can bring together.
Healthcare reform is also driving the agreement. Saunders said medical providers will be required to not only treat the ill but to look out for the overall health of the community and try to prevent hospital admissions. Working together will help meet that objective, she said.
Many other health care providers around the country are forming similar partnerships, said Starr Purdue, chairwoman of the Central Georgia Health System board, the umbrella organization of the Medical Center.
Saunders said because it is not a merger, no regulatory approval is required.
The partnership also will include the new Medical Center of Peach County (formerly Peach Regional Medical Center), which is operated by the Medical Center. A ribbon cutting is being held for the hospital Thursday, and it will begin accepting patients on July 16.
Sonny Watson, chairman of the Houston Healthcare System Inc. board, said the agreement will help the two deal with changes coming as a result of health care reform.
I think its an opportunity of a lifetime, he said. We know there is a lot of challenges ahead, and I think if we face these challenges together, we will make a lot of progress, and we will be able to serve our constituents better.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.