Salisbury-based health system to assume ownership of NHS in early 2020
Nearly six months after signing a letter of intent to affiliate with Peninsula Regional Health System (PSHS), Nanticoke Health Services (NHS) has now reached a definitive agreement to affiliate with the Salisbury based health system, the two organizations announced last Thursday. Final state and federal regulatory approval is anticipated in November, which will allow Nanticoke to join the Peninsula Regional Health system.
“Hospitals and healthcare systems come together for different reasons (to be more efficient, serve larger populations),” said Steve Leonard, Ph.D., MBA, FACHE, President/CEO of Peninsula Regional Health System. “The ultimate goal is to improve the health of the communities we are serving.”
“This really helps Nanticoke meet our mission to provide the best care possible for our community and continue to grow,” Steve Rose, RN MN, President/CEO of Nanticoke Health Services said. “In order for Nanticoke to further its mission, it became imperative we find a strong, compatible healthcare partner. Peninsula Regional has always been a supportive ally and great neighbor, sharing a similar mission and culture. Together we will continue and grow the legacy of high quality healthcare for our community.”
During a joint interview with the Star last week, Leonard called the definitive agreement a significant milestone which allows the organizations to look at what it will look like when they merge at the end of the year. The health care systems’ integrated teams will begin meeting to see how this joint venture will work.
“I’m really excited about the integrated teams. It’s really going to be a lot of fun,” said Rose, who expects the closing to take place at the end of the year.
The merger includes the two hospitals’ physicians enterprise, which includes 200 providers. Rose said Nanticoke’s immediate care facilities are included in the organization’s future plans as well.
“It’s a great step forward for western Sussex County and the communities that we serve,” he said, adding that the merger of the physicians enterprise will provide more choices for patients looking for healthcare closer to home.
Rose said there are no plans for changes in staffing in the short term. Leonard said the organization will focus on serving a growing population, which may mean more jobs.
“New services may lead to new jobs. Sussex County is growing rapidly and we’re going to be in a good position to figure out how we will take care of them,” said Leonard.
As for Rose, he plans to speak to Leonard about what his future role with the organization will be once the transition takes place. Penny Short will serve as the next president of Nanticoke Hospital, although a date for that transition has yet to be determined.
“I have to see all of this through,” Rose said. “I will speak with Steve and see what opportunities there are.”
Once the merger takes place, Nanticoke will continue to provide services in Sussex County and parts of Maryland’s Mid-Shore. Peninsula Regional Health System, with a decades-long presence in Sussex County, will help to strengthen and enhance Nanticoke’s efforts through integrated care, expanding services where needed and making more readily accessible the Delmarva Peninsula’s most advanced tertiary care services.
McCready Health of Crisfield also recently signed a definitive agreement to join PRHS. That process is undergoing a similar regulatory review and is also expected to be finalized between November and January. Once the processes have been completed, the new health system will be renamed, while the hospitals themselves will keep their names. The naming of the new health system will take place toward the middle of 2020, Leonard said.
Leonard said McCready and Nanticoke are different hospitals. Nanticoke is much larger and will continue to operate as it does today, once the merger is complete. McCready is transitioning to freestanding medical facility with no impatient services or surgeries.
The Peninsula Regional Health System Board of Directors, working closely with their counterparts at Nanticoke Health Services, will oversee the transition. Leonard will remain President/CEO of the new health system and will be responsible for executive leadership, including the Nanticoke additions.
Leonard said each hospital will have a local board which will oversee the facility’s quality, safety, and medical staff credentials. Nanticoke will have two seats on the system level board. Local board members will also serve on committees dealing with strategy, finance, and other issues
“Nanticoke’s current board members will be important both locally and at the system level,” said Leonard.
According to Rose, Nanticoke will continue all of its avenues of fundraising and will maintain local events such as its annual golf tournament and dinner auction. All funds raised by Nanticoke remains local and will be used to provide care for its patients. Nanticoke will also continue to support community events and organizations such as Riverfest, AFRAM, the senior center, the Boys and Girls Club, and others.
The next step in the process is a public review process which is required through the State of Delaware. At the conclusion of the regulatory process, the affiliation would become final and the two organizations will begin transitioning to one healthcare team.