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HAMC, clinic integration moving along

By Staff | Jan 21, 2010

The April 1 target date for Rugby’s Heart of America Medical Center and Johnson Clinic to become one entity remains on schedule.

Representatives of the hospital and clinic have been meeting twice a month to work on the integration process.

“We are moving forward,’ said Jeff Lingerfelt, HAMC CEO. “Right now we’re in that heavy lifting stage… examining wages, salaries and benefits and how it’s all going to fit (into one system).”

Dr. Brian Selland, of the clinic, agrees everything in the process so far has gone as well as it can, but acknowledged the next few months will be a challenge, tending to all the details involving staffing issues, the sale of the clinic building and then tying up all the loose ends.

“It seems like there just isn’t enough hours in a day (to work on this integration),’ Selland said. “It’s a significant undertaking.”

Consolidating the the HAMC and clinic had been informally discussed, but the two entities last September announced it would integrate by the spring of 2010.

In addition to holding regular meetings, hospital and clinic representatives have been working with a Minneapolis-consulting firm on the merger as well.

Selland said the working relationship with the new hospital leadership has been outstanding and both entities are on the same page regarding long-term goals.

Those goals include creating one health care entity which is stronger, both financially and in providing quality health care services to the region and more health care providers.

One of the key benefits of an integrated facility will enable it to receive more favorable Medicare-Medicaid reimbursement rates from the government. And those funds will cover a larger share of the services and procedures currently provided, and thus helping the organization’s bottom line.

“All the parties involve recognize the need for this and how this will be beneficial to the community,’ Lingerfelt said.

The partnership will also be an advantage in physician recruitment efforts, Lingerfelt believes. The uncertainties surrounding the status of national health care legislation and how it will effect providers, will steer physicians to be employed in consolidated health care organizations as opposed to private, physician-owned facilities.

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