Saturday, January 29, 2011

"A huge thing"

A recent comment on this blog observed that Community's intention to join with Upstate "is a huge thing" and employees "have every right to be scared."

It is a big deal, and not only for employees, but for the medical staff and for the community-at-large. It's a big deal in response to the big changes affecting all health care providers. There is an ongoing, significant consolidation in health care.

Look at what has happened to doctors in our community. A number of medical practices have merged, some doctors have left practice, and some groups have been acquired by hospitals. These changes over a number of years have consequences on services available at hospitals and on how much it costs hospitals to provide the services.

Add to that the higher costs of running a hospital (hospitalists, for example); the higher cost of mandates (such as electronic medical records); the cost of new technology; the restrictions, rules, the cost containment we have seen (and will continue to see) in Medicare and Medicaid, (and the limited ability of insurers and employers to make up the difference) -- these forces are inexorable, and they make the financial situations of stand-alone, community hospitals very difficult indeed.
We have seen this coming for a number of years. As I pointed out in my remarks before the Central New York Health Systems Agency (CNYHSA), the Syracuse hospitals have been considering mergers and consolidations since the 1990's.

I used the slide (above) to remind the CNYHSA about the various studies and reports that have recommended that Syracuse hospitals consolidate. You can find my full presentation here (click on "Tom Quinn's PowerPoint").

Community General Hospital is part of this industry-wide consolidation, and I expect such consolidation to continue, even increase, among New York's hospitals in coming years.

The question is not whether we can avoid such consolidation. The question is, given the massive changes in health care, what is best for our community and for the health care people caring for our community?

That’s why Community has sought a merger partner, first with Crouse Hospital and ultimately with Upstate Medical University. That is our Board’s responsibility – to assess the situation and, given the changes and the realities, to determine how Community General should best serve the community-at-large in the future.

There are and will be many technical and legal issues affecting the Community General combination with Upstate. All these issues have not yet been resolved. I believe our path with Upstate makes the most sense for our community, for Community’s employees, and for the medical staff.

We are working with Upstate to assure that Community’s mission, services and jobs continue as part of Upstate's larger organization and purpose. Let me call attention to the guiding principles, developed by Community and Upstate (available here), in which the importance of the existing workforces is recognized at both organizations. Upstate is a fair and honorable partner for Community, and I have confidence that the combination will ultimately be in the best interests of Community's employees.

For the most up-to-date information regarding affiliation and workforce issues, please see the Q&A section of the Community-Upstate website.

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