As Akron General celebrates its 100th anniversary this week, the health system is continuing to look for a partner to thrive for another century.
In a recent interview, Akron General Health System President and Chief Executive Dr. Thomas “Tim” Stover said the hospital is “pretty close” to reaching a deal, likely within the next two months.
“I’m hoping we can get to a resolution soon,” Stover said.
Last month, Akron General announced it had ended exclusive talks to sell the health system’s assets to a new joint venture to be formed between the Cleveland Clinic and national hospital chain Community Health Systems (CHS).
Akron General opted to look at other partnership opportunities after the Cleveland Clinic and CHS weren’t able to reach an agreement.
The Akron-based health system had hoped to have a deal finalized by the end of 2013.
In the end, Stover said, the fact that the original deal involving for-profit, Tennessee-based CHS didn’t move forward “was a blessing.”
“I don’t think they were right for us, and I don’t think we were right for them,” he said.
Akron General Health System includes Akron General Medical Center, physician practices, Visiting Nurse Service and Affiliates, Hospice of VNS, Lodi Community Hospital, Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation Institute, three health and wellness centers and other outpatient locations. The health system is among the region’s largest employers, with more than 5,000 workers.
Akron General officials have declined to identify the potential partners because of confidentiality agreements.
But Stover previously said “the door is open” to talks with the Cleveland Clinic.
When asked last week whether the Cleveland Clinic is interested in continuing to pursue a deal with Akron General, spokeswoman Eileen Sheil said, “We are exploring opportunities to collaborate at this time.”
Stover confirmed Akron General is talking to potential partners from the region, as well as statewide and nationwide.
Cleveland-based University Hospitals isn’t among the suitors moving forward, by mutual agreement, Stover said.
University Hospitals (UH) has been aggressively growing throughout Northeast Ohio, most recently announcing a potential deal with Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna.
UH is building a “hub-and-spoke” model, with a network of smaller, community hospitals referring patients who need more complex care to the main campus in Cleveland, Stover said.
“We’re looking at a partnership to enhance what we have here at Akron General, not to be a feeder for a bigger system,” he said.
Akron General’s cross-town rival, Summa Health System, also isn’t on the list.
“I believe in competition,” Stover said.
Akron General previously had discussions with Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners, Stover said. However, those talks didn’t go far because a partnership likely would be fraught with anti-trust concerns. An auxiliary of Catholic Health Partners recently acquired a 30 percent ownership stake in Summa for $250 million.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/CherylPowellABJ.