UPDATE: Cabell Huntington Now Says It May Acquire St. Mary's

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email
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Q&A regarding SMMC/CHH announcement
 

Q1:  What is being announced?
Cabell Huntington Hospital, Inc., and Pallottine Health Services, Inc. are discussing a potential acquisition by Cabell Huntington Hospital of St. Mary’s Medical Center.  We believe that combining the organizations will benefit the community by improving quality, access and affordability in the delivery of healthcare services.  We are currently in the initial steps of a process that will occur over an extended period of time aimed at bringing our two organizations together. The goal would be for both St. Mary’s Medical Center and Cabell Huntington Hospital to maintain their individual identities with a business model that would allow the combined organization to be more efficient and poised for the future as a regional health care leader in quality, affordability and access.


Q2:  How long will the process take?
Informal discussions have been ongoing, but it is difficult to know how long it will take to complete the formal process. It will likely be sometime in 2015 before a final transaction is consummated.


Q3:  Why is St. Mary’s considering affiliating with Cabell?
We believe that the affiliation will allow the combined system to become more efficient and improve the quality, access and affordability of health care services in our communities. These goals are consistent with the changing health care landscape and with the goals of health care reform. In addition, with the changing climate of healthcare and fewer Sisters to oversee our healthcare ministries, the Pallottine Missionary Sisters made the decision to end their sponsorship of St. Mary’s Medical Center.
It is our belief that by combining our complementary strengths, both organizations together can significantly improve our ability to meet the health care needs of the region with greater efficiency and exceptional quality.


Q4:  Why didn’t you tell us about these discussions earlier?
The informal discussions that have been happening so far have been both preliminary and conducted under a signed confidentiality agreement that restricted disclosure.


Q5:  Is SMMC in financial trouble?
No. However, health care reform continues to create new challenges for both St. Mary’s and Cabell to continue to serve the community and it is expected that together, the hospitals will be more efficient and able to deliver higher quality, accessible health care at a lower cost.


Q6:  Will SMMC retain its identity as a Catholic Healthcare Ministry?
Yes. While St. Mary’s would no longer be sponsored by the Pallottine Sisters, St. Mary’s will retain its identity as a Catholic medical center.  We will continue to follow the mission set forth by the Pallottine Sisters and it is expected that we will maintain the ethical and religious directives of the Catholic Church.


Q7:  What happens to employees of St. Mary’s?  Will I be an employee of St. Mary’s or Cabell?
At this time, St. Mary’s employees will continue to be employees of St. Mary’s. No changes to employment status will occur until after the transaction closes. More information will be provided at an appropriate time after a final agreement is signed.  


Q8:  Will there be layoffs?
No layoffs are planned at this point. While we cannot predict what will happen after the affiliation, as St. Mary’s moves through this process, we are fully committed to providing the same high quality care that has been the hallmark of St. Mary’s. We cannot do this without the expertise and support of our staff and management. 
An agreement like this does provide organizations with the opportunity to more efficiently allocate resources and consolidate services. Over time, this can impact jobs. In the event there would be job reductions, it is our hope that many of the eliminations could be accomplished by not replacing employees who are voluntarily leaving employment with the hospitals.


Q9:  Will my salary and benefits change?
St. Mary’s does not anticipate at this time that there will be any changes in salary and benefits for St. Mary’s employees.


Q10:  Will this have any impact on my retirement/pension?
As required by law, there will be no loss of any earned retirement or pension benefits for current employees or retirees from St. Mary’s. 

Q11:  What does this mean for SMMC physicians?
While we cannot predict what will happen in the future, St. Mary’s expects that the medical staff at St. Mary’s will function as it does today. At the same time, we expect that there will be opportunities for the two medical staffs at St. Mary’s and Cabell to look for ways to collaborate as they jointly explore opportunities to enhance the quality and depth of services that we provide to our community.


Q12:  What will happen to St. Mary’s Schools of Nursing, Medical Imaging and Respiratory Care?
It is the intent of St. Mary’s to continue to keep the St. Mary’s schools open and educating the health care professionals of tomorrow.


Q13:  Did SMMC consider joining other hospitals instead of Cabell?  Why was Cabell chosen?
The Sisters reviewed many proposals regarding a new hospital sponsor for St. Mary’s. It was felt that partnering with Cabell provided many benefits to the community that could not otherwise be obtained.
 

Q14:  When and how will we receive further communication about the affiliation?
St. Mary’s knows that events like this can cause anxiety for our dedicated professionals, as well as for our patients and our community. We hope that the work on this potential consolidation will be thoughtful and swift. We are committed to an open dialogue around those topics we are allowed to discuss. 
A special Intranet web page called “SMMC/CHH” will be created to give you the latest news about this process and how it affects staff. You may also ask any Senior Manager or your department leader if your questions are not answered here. Further, you may address your questions to the “7400 Hotline.”

UPDATE 8/5/14 @ 7:25 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- WSAZ.com has obtained an internal memo sent out by St. Mary's Medical Center CEO Michael Sellards to all St. Mary's employees. The document answers a lot of questions regarding Cabell Huntington Hospital's acquisition of St. Mary's Medical Center.

According to the memo, as of now no layoffs are planned at St. Mary's. However, Sellards admits that over time, these sort of acquisitions can impact jobs. The document also states that "at this time, St. Mary's employees will continue to be employees of St. Mary's and no changes to employment status will occur until after the transaction closes."

As for St. Mary's physicians, the memo says it's expected the medical staff at St. Mary's will function as it does today. WSAZ.com has also learned it will likely be sometime in 2015 before a final transaction between Cabell Huntington and St. Mary's is completed. In the meantime, both hospitals will continue to be operated independently of each other.

For the Q&A from the memo, see the sidebar story to the right.



UPDATE 8/5/14 @ 12 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A day after saying it was exploring an "affiliation" with St. Mary's Medical Center, Cabell Huntington Hospital told WSAZ Tuesday that it's discussing a "potential acquisition".

The change in wording Tuesday began to clarify the nature of the new relationship between the two regional health care giants.

In a statement to WSAZ, Cabell Huntington said both organizations believe combining operations will benefit the community by improving quality, access and affordability in the delivery of health care.

“Cabell Huntington Hospital continuously seeks strategic partnerships and collaborations with providers and entities to prepare for population health management, increase access and manage the cost of health care,” said Brent A. Marsteller, Chief Executive Officer, Cabell Huntington Hospital. “We are extremely excited about the potential of a close working relationship with St. Mary’s Medical Center as we see this as critical to delivering the highest quality care in the most cost effective and efficient manner. In the meantime, we will continue to operate both hospitals independently.”



UPDATE 8/4/14 @ 6 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Sources tell WSAZ.com that Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center in Huntington are in serious talks "toward affiliation," with an announcement expected this week.

Cabell Huntington Hospital issued a statement to WSAZ.com Monday saying Cabell Huntington and St. Mary's "have had and are continuing discussions toward an affiliation."

According to the statement, the hospital expected to provide more details "in the near future."

It's unclear how the so-called "affiliation" would impact the employees or the delivery of health care from the two largest hospitals in the county.

St. Mary's is a 393-bed hospital with more than 2,600 employees. Cabell Huntington is a 303-bed facility with more than 2,500 employees.

An affiliation between these two hospitals may sound familiar. They tried it 16 years ago, although it was a different scenario.

Back in 1998, Cabell Huntington, St. Mary's, and Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant became affiliated.

That venture was known as Genesis Healthcare Services.

That affiliation lasted only until 2001.

WSAZ.com spoke with several patients and relatives outside of Cabell-Huntington on Monday.

One patient said the idea of an affiliation sounds too much like a monopoly on healthcare in the area.

Some are concerned this will affect who they get their healthcare from.

Others are more optimistic, believing the two hospitals' resources being pooled could only improve healthcare.

"I just think if they affiliate, some people are going to lose their jobs," Delores Crane from Chapmanville said. "I just don't think they should affiliate."

"They could combine with their research and everything like that," Okle Atkins from Wayne County said. "They could make things a whole lot better."

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



ORIGINAL STORY 8/4/14 @ 12:55 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Sources tell WSAZ.com that Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center in Huntington are in serious talks "toward affiliation, with an announcement expected this week.

Cabell Huntington Hospital issued a statement to WSAZ.com Monday saying Cabell Huntington and St. Mary's "have had and are continuing discussions toward an affiliation."

According to the statement, the hospital expected to provide more details "in the near future."

It's unclear how the so-called "affiliation" would impact the employees or the delivery of health care from the two largest hospitals in the county.

St. Mary's is a 393-bed hospital with more than 2600 employees. Cabell Huntington is a 303-bed facility with more than 2500 employees.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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