Thursday, October 22, 2009

Considering the changes ahead

Over the summer, Community General Hospital began working with FTI Consultants, a national firm, to assist with strategic planning to help us prepare for changes associated with health care reform. We have recently provided the results of FTI’s research to our Board of Directors and to the Medical Executive Committee. Our planning activity will continue this fall.

Among the options presented by our consultant is the development of a collaboration with another hospital, and Crouse Hospital has been identified as our leading potential partner.

Independent of our planning process, Crouse Hospital has worked with its own strategic planning consultant (a national firm called Sg2), and its planning has identified Community General as a potential partner. Consistent with these results, I have held preliminary discussions with Dr. Paul Kronenberg, President & CEO of Crouse Hospital, regarding the potential community benefits of working together.

The fact that Community and Crouse are talking again may seem surprising, given our past, unsuccessful relationship in the Health Alliance of CNY (1999-2002). However, the health care world is different today with new regulatory and financial pressures on hospitals and doctors, and there are important reasons for looking at ways we might work together, as well as important lessons to be learned from our past experience.

The progress each hospital has made since 2002 is noteworthy. For example, HealthGrades has awarded Community its five-star service designation for several years, while Crouse was named “Business of the Year” by the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce and has been the recipient of a “Human Resources Excellence – Employer of Choice Award” from the Central New York Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. In addition, both Community and Crouse were named “Top 100” most improved hospitals by Thomson Reuters.

To date, our discussions have been exploratory, and both hospitals will continue with normal business operations. As discussions progress, recommendations will be developed for the Board of Directors, and we will involve physician and clinical leaders.

Community General's physicians, employees, and volunteers are dedicated to advance health care in Central New York that is high quality, safe, compassionate, and cost effective. That has not, and will not, change.

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