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Cleveland Clinic pursues affiliation with Toledo-based hospital system

By Cheryl Powell
Beacon Journal medical writer

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Mega-mergers and affiliations continue to spike among Northeast Ohio hospitals.

In the latest announcement, health-care giant Cleveland Clinic said on Thursday it’s pursuing an affiliation with ProMedica. The Toledo-based health system has 11 hospitals in Northwest Ohio and eastern Michigan and a health insurance plan, Paramount.

The organizations indicated they have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop an affiliation, which won’t involve a change in ownership for either hospital system.

The hospital systems intend to work together to buy supplies at lower costs and to develop standard ways to treat patients and manage operational costs, according to a news release.

“There will be not be a significant financial relationship,” Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Eileen Sheil said in an email. “We will remain separate organizations. The affiliation will focus on clinical and functional integration. This is not a merger.

The announcement follows ProMedica’s decision last year to join with the Cleveland Clinic for an effort to develop and commercialize medical-related products.

The new affiliation “is an important step in the new health-care realm, which will integrate the Cleveland Clinic and ProMedica in deeper ways to enhance health-care delivery and strengthen our ability to jointly explore additional clinical and functional collaborations,” Robert E. Rich, chairman of the Cleveland Clinic’s board of directors, said in a news release.

The deal comes as Summa Health System in Akron finalizes its own deal to sell a minority ownership stake to Catholic Health Partners, the state’s largest hospital system.

Akron General Health System leaders also are continuing to seek a bigger partner as the hospital contends with industry changes and a rapidly evolving health-care market.

Robinson Memorial Hospital announced in June that it has hired a health-care consultant to explore partnership opportunities. The Ravenna hospital has an affiliation that is set to expire at the end of the year with Summa.

Hospitals nationwide increasingly are forging partnerships with looming changes from health-care reform and payments that don’t cover costs, particularly from Medicare, the federal health insurer for people ages 65 and older and some younger disabled Americans.

The industry also is preparing for a shift by federal programs and private insurers from a system that pays hospitals for procedures, treatments and inpatient stays to a new system that provides incentives to keep people healthy and manage all their care. By joining together and capturing a bigger, diverse patient population, hospitals can spread their financial risk.

Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or cpowell@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.


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