Oconee Regional Medical Center (ORMC) hopes to enhance health care services throughout Milledgeville and its seven surrounding counties with a strategic partner.
ORMC along with Oconee Regional Health Systems (ORHS) will unite with Central Georgia Health Systems (CGHS) and The Medical Center of Central Georgia (MCCG) for a joint pursuit of the right care at the right time for the right cost and quality.
President and CEO of ORHS and ORMC Jean Aycock joined Dr. Ninfa Saunders, president and CEO of CGHS and MCCG, for the Tuesday announcement of a signed letter of intent.
“This partnership will allow our health system to keep its identity intact while greatly enhancing the patient-focused health care we have provided for local residents for so many years. Central Georgia Health System and The Medical Center of Central Georgia have excellent reputations, and their leadership and added resources will result in greater opportunities for local health care,” Aycock said.
Saunders said the primary purpose of the partnership focuses on two specific areas.
Improving health care value for patients, providers and payors as well as increased service quality and offerings for the Milledgeville community area are focused goals.
“We want to manage the health of the population by increasing community access, keeping health care local and supporting the local hospital,” Saunders said. “Access is critical.”
Due to dramatic changes in the health care industry, alliances among health care providers have become a positive and necessary trend.
ORMC Board Chairman David Groseclose said this idea for alignment has been discussed for several months.
Aycock said the Milledgeville hospital has always shared patients and tertiary referrals with MCCG. This partnership will develop more seamless transition between providers.
“We are excited about the opportunities that will be provided by this partnership — including increased coverage for out patients along the entire continuum of care, enhance outpatient services and enhances physician recruitment — while allowing greater cost savings through shared resources,” Groseclose said.
The new order of health care usually demands that smaller, not-for-profit community hospitals like ORMC can't thrive and grow unless they share best practices and resources. Aycock said this move is about more than long-term survival as a rural hospital.
“At the end of the day, what matters most is not the corporation, but the patients,” Aycock said. “This potential feels almost unlimited at this point for the community.”
CGHS and ORHS, along with MCCG and ORMC, are members of Stratus Healthcare, a strategic non-equity network of health systems, hospitals and physicians formed in July 2013. This new partnership will allow the entities to work together in a more formal manner.
ORMC will maintain its “identity” and board of directors. This isn't a merger or acquisition.
“Local health care, local governance and local medical staff is very important to this situation,” Aycock said Tuesday.
Co-investments in clinics or programs are part upcoming negotiations included in this partnership benefiting Milledgeville and the surrounding counties.
Aycock mentioned a primary care outpatient center currently under construction adjacent to Kroger off North Columbia Street.
It will house urgent care, occupational medicine and other programs.
“Within the next three to four months that will be open. It will be one of the first visible things our community will see in terms of additional access,” Aycock said. “We want to enhance the local nature of what we do really well, but also have that seamless coordination with a tertiary facility and specialties when needed.”