Those who joined the speculation about Summa Health often thought University of Pittsburgh Medical Center or University Hospitals in Cleveland. In the end, the Akron-based hospital system delivered a surprise, and pleasingly so. It will become part of Beaumont Health of suburban Detroit, the largest health-care system in Michigan. Beaumont provides what Summa set out to find in a partner, the size necessary to improve access to capital, add patient services and enhance physician recruitment.

The agreement, in which Summa will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Beaumont, preserves something else important to the Summa leadership, and the Akron community, a significant measure of local control. The board will remain local, thus sustaining an awareness of the Summa legacy, knowledge of the city, region and the health-care system’s stake in the community. That isn’t always the outcome in this era of consolidation in health care.

That reality of bigger and bigger means Summa had no choice but to find a larger partner, just as when it linked up with Mercy Health, an alliance that changed sharply when Mercy Health merged with Bon Secours of Maryland last year. In looking anew, Summa has found what appears to be a better fit, the systems with complementary missions and territories, each with something to gain. Beaumont, for instance, sees the value and potential in SummaCare, the successful insurance component.

Worth highlighting is the leadership of Cliff Deveny, the Summa Health president and chief executive. Recall what he faced when he returned to Akron two years ago. Summa had experienced the near collapse of its emergency department, longtime physicians suddenly exiting in a labor dispute, the system scrambling to form a new team. All of this sparked a wider revolt of doctors and then the resignation of Thomas Malone, the president and chief executive.

Trust in Summa declined among physicians and patients, its financial position weakening. By June 2017, Deveny, a former Summa physician and just starting in the top job, faced a projected $60 million shortfall. That translated to slashing staff positions and making other hard choices.

And yet, when Summa launched its search for a new partner last fall, it had repaired its bottom line to the extent it could conduct the search from a position of strength, allowing time for making the right choice. Deveny famously warned employees that if Summa did not meet the challenge, he could assure them “the name on our badges will no longer say Summa Health.” Well, the agreement with Beaumont means the name remains.

As Tom Campanella, a professor of health economics at Baldwin Wallace University, told Betty Lin-Fisher of the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com., keeping the name reflects a key element of the agreement, Summa avoiding the role of “second fiddle” in the region, something that surely would have resulted, for example, if University Hospitals became the partner.

No doubt, unexpected turns will arise, yet this is what Summa needs. Now it will be equipped for the stiff competition in this regional market, the Cleveland Clinic, especially, a most formidable presence. And there is much for Summa to do, starting with the completion of its $350 million upgrade of facilities and regaining its residency program in emergency medicine, another casualty of that rocky 2017. (The reinstatement could come this fall.) Summa can begin to think about expanding its footprint, increasing quality and attracting part of the 30,000 admissions a year going to Cleveland and Canton.

Those are the doors that will open if the agreement with Beaumont Health proves as promising in reality as it appears on paper, Summa Health in position to raise its game and press others in health care to do the same.