Board approves clinic purchaseFamily Medicine will be taken over by hospital on March 1
Washington County Hospital and Clinics (WCHC) CEO Dennis Hunger hopes patients to Mercy Family Medicine of Washington won’t notice any changes after March 1, which is the date he hopes the hospital will take possession of the clinic from Mercy – Iowa City.
During the regular Washington County Hospital Board of Trustees meeting Thursday evening, the board unanimously approved the purchase of the clinic pending the final resolution of minor negotiating points. Hunger declined to release the purchase price of the clinic until after the final points are worked out and the deal is finalized. He said that the hospital had gotten a good deal and that Washington County taxpayers would see no increase in taxes from the hospital as a result of the purchase.
“Last summer we were approached by someone saying that the Mercy physicians were exploring other options,” Hunger said. “At that time I contacted the Mercy physicians and gathered more information and detail. I approached Mercy Medical Center at the same time. We started working together last summer.”
The clinic will remain at its current location at 1230 South Iowa Avenue. The new name of the clinic will be ‘Family Medicine of WCHC.’
Hunger said the goal now is for WCH and Mercy to work out the final arrangements. He said the larger items have been agreed on and he hopes to get all the arrangements locked in place within the next week for the transition to occur on March 1. He said one of the items that have yet to be determined is the specialists from Mercy who practice at the clinic. He said there is a verbal long-term lease agreement that would allow the specialists to remain practicing in the Washington clinic.
About 30 people work at the clinic, which will be transitioned from Mercy to Washington County Hospital. The clinic houses five doctors and one nurse practitioner.
“This is an ideal partnership for future patient care,” Dr. David Nacos of Mercy Family Practice of Washington said. “We now have access to the entire WCHC network and practice optimum care for our patients. As members of the WCHC medical staff, we know that WCHC is a strong organization with a reputation for delivering high-quality care. We look forward to providing excellent care under the WCHC name.”
Last fall, while the purchase was under discussion, WCHC had worked out an employee arrangement with the clinic workers.
“This well-established group is an excellent addition to our existing network of primary care providers in Washington,” Dr. Curtis Frier of WCHC Medical Clinic said.
Hunger stressed that all appointments patients have with caregivers would remain the same, all insurance providers would remain the same and the Medicare Advantage program would continue to be accepted.
It is unknown if the Affordable Care Act will increase the number of patients seen at the hospital and clinics, but Hunger said that the purchase of the clinic would give the hospital more room to expand. He said a problem WCHC was facing was that they were running out of space. With the new clinic, he said, there will be room if additional personnel were added.
A large team was used to determine if the purchase of the clinic was in WCHC’s interest. Hunger said several business analysts – many from out of state — made up the team, as well as board members and hospital administration. He said that the team was able to access national experts in the field to determine if the acquisition was financially the right move. Hunger said, after some hard questions were answered, the consensus was that purchasing the clinic was a strong move.
“I think the community should be proud and should be happy with the deal that was made,” Hunger said. “I think we came to a fair deal that we can walk away from feeling it was in our favor and Mercy can walk away from feeling it was in their favor also.”