Portage County’s only hospital is close to selecting a bigger partner as it moves forward this week with its switch from county-owned to not-for-profit status.
Robinson Memorial Hospital is in talks with “several” unidentified health systems for a potential partnership deal, which should be announced by mid-January, President and Chief Executive Stephen Colecchi said.
“We’re not there yet, but we’re close,” he said in a recent interview. “Although our original goal was to finalize a partnership selection by the end of the year, the time frame for a final decision has been extended slightly.”
In the meantime, Robinson’s conversion from county-owned to not-for-profit status is going into effect as scheduled on New Year’s Day, Colecchi said.
He said the switch “will have zero impact on patients.”
Under the terms of the agreement with Portage County, Robinson Health System will own and operate Robinson Memorial Hospital and assume all hospital liabilities and debts.
The new nonprofit hospital system will pay Portage County $50,000 annually to lease the Ravenna property and facility, which will continue to be county-owned. The health system will be responsible for running the hospital and maintaining the county-owned buildings.
The conversion gives Robinson the chance to enter into new deals with other health-care organizations — a trend that’s increasingly common throughout the region and nationwide as hospitals contend with changes from federal health-care reform.
Robinson has had an affiliation since 2007 with Summa Health System that expires at the end of the year. Officials from both organizations previously have said they’re interested in exploring ways they might work together going forward.
“Both organizations have benefitted from our relationship, and discussions are continuing to determine if there are additional opportunities to work together moving forward,” Summa spokesman Mike Bernstein said in an email Friday.
Colecchi declined to name the potential partners or to release any details, citing confidentiality agreements.
Under the terms of Robinson’s ownership conversion agreement with Portage County, any partnership deal must maintain Robinson’s status as a nonprofit hospital, Colecchi said. The property and buildings would continue to be owned by the county, but the hospital’s business operations could be acquired.
“We would anticipate that any new partnership agreement would result in Robinson Health System becoming a full member of the new partner,” Colecchi said. “It will definitely be more than an affiliation agreement.”
Summa recently finalized its own $250 million deal with HealthSpan Partners, an auxiliary of Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners, for a minority ownership stake in the Akron-area health system.
Akron General Health System also is in talks to be acquired by a partnership between for-profit national hospital chain Community Health Systems of Tennessee and the Cleveland Clinic.
“Clearly, the regional developments are further evidence that our decision to go through this partnership initiative is the right decision,” Colecchi said. “A stand-alone community hospital the size of Robinson would have a very difficult time surviving long term.”
Robinson is expected to release the names of the new hospital board members this week. Colecchi said five new members will join the existing 10 to oversee the new nonprofit Robinson Health System.
The new board will need to approve any partnership agreements.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.