Grinnell Regional Medical Center Announces Plans for Unique Partnership with UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and University of Iowa Health Care
Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC), UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and University of Iowa Health Care (UI Health Care) have begun exclusive negotiations about forming a new relationship.
While details of the proposed relationship remain to be determined, the vision for Grinnell is clear. The goal is to bring the best of UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and UI Health Care to Grinnell to enhance the care that is offered to the Grinnell community. Examples include enhancing specialty services, telemedicine, research, and educational opportunities, as well as introducing insurance products and direct-to-employer programs. Additionally, the anticipated partnership will allow the three organizations to share quality data and standardized best-practice treatment protocols across the continuum of care.
“GRMC has a long history of identifying innovative solutions to provide exceptional health care services. Given the economic realities of today and the unknowns of the future of health care, we think this new relationship with UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and UI Health Care represents a valuable opportunity to ensure GRMC will continue to serve our communities,” said Todd L. Reding, chair of the GRMC board. “Thanks to the hard work of so many GRMC health care providers, staff and community board members, we have an exciting partnership that will allow us to thrive, and not just survive, going forward.”
After an exhaustive process in 2015 of exploring a tighter relationship with Mercy Health Network, an organization with which GRMC has enjoyed a seven-year affiliation, the GRMC board chose to step back and look more broadly at all the health systems in Iowa. GRMC is not alone in this endeavor. According to national experts, one out of five of the nation’s 5,000 hospitals will merge or become affiliated within the next five years. More than half of Iowa hospitals already belong to one of the health care systems in the state.
In March 2016, GRMC released a “request for proposal” and received four responses, one each from Mercy Health Network, UnityPoint Health, and UI Health Care, and a joint proposal from UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and UI Health Care. The GRMC board, led by a six-person affiliation task force, carefully reviewed each proposal in detail. The GRMC task force found the joint proposal from UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and UI Health Care to be the best fit.
“As a regional hospital, we are in the quality of life business,” said Todd Linden, GRMC president and CEO. “The opinion of the GRMC board is that the joint proposal has the best potential to ensure the quality of life of the residents of the greater Grinnell service area. Both UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and UI Health Care are excellent organizations with outstanding brand recognition and a wide array of support services that will enhance what we do locally.”
The proposal from UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and UI Health Care outlines a new, collaborative vision for the three organizations to work together to improve access to care in the greater Poweshiek County area.
“UI Health Care values our relationships with physicians and staff of GRMC,” said Jean Robillard, M.D., vice president for medical affairs with UI Health Care. “Our goals of providing the best possible care close to home are perfectly aligned, and we look forward to discussing the best approaches to continuing and expanding our health care services to GRMC patients and families.”
“We are excited to partner with Grinnell Regional Medical Center and have a great deal of respect for the long tradition of care they have in the community,” said Eric Crowell, president & CEO of UnityPoint Health – Des Moines. “With the changing direction of health care it is increasingly important for organizations and systems to collaborate and partner in order to continue to provide quality affordable health care.”
“One important aspect of all of this will be to maintain a strong local voice and engagement by the local board,” said Wendy Kadner, chair-elect of the GRMC board. “We have had a great community board for many decades that has put GRMC in the position to be a highly-desired organization by all the healthcare systems in Iowa.”
“Health care providers at GRMC know their community the best. That’s why it is important for them to continue leading the process of caring for their patients, with our specialists assisting when a higher level of care is needed,” Robillard said.
During the due diligence process, the three organizations will review and evaluate opportunities to enhance GRMC services and relationships with regional providers and employers through initiatives, like health plan offerings, mental health services, home care services and workplace services. In addition, leaders plan to explore opportunities to expand pediatric and obstetrics services in Grinnell.
One area of particular importance to all parties is maintaining the quality and breadth of the GRMC medical staff.
“We have so many extraordinary clinicians at GRMC who are committed to providing safe and effective care,” said Nicholas Kuiper, D.O., GRMC general surgeon and member of both the GRMC board and the affiliation task force. “We have been very focused on making sure any affiliation will embrace what we already have here and look to build upon it. The leaders from UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and UI Health Care made it clear that this was their goal.”
Ron Collins, M.D., GRMC internal medicine physician, as well as a member of the GRMC board and affiliation task force, agrees. “I was impressed with the commitment and enthusiasm shown by the leaders from both Unity Point Health – Des Moines and UI Health Care for an affiliation with us. All of us are excited about what we can create together by joining forces.”
Formal discussions will start immediately. All parties will work to complete due diligence and receive the appropriate approvals from their respective governing boards. During due diligence, representatives from all three organizations will work closely to explore options. The agreement will preserve a key role for the local board in the leadership and governance of GRMC. The organizations expect to complete the affiliation discussions within the next several months, depending on regulatory and board approvals.
“This novel approach is appealing because it retains each organization’s strengths, while at the same time increases our ability to improve outcomes and value for patients in the hospital as well as at our affiliated clinics,” said Cori Fogle, PA-C, a member of the affiliation task force and a physician assistant at Victor Health Center, a GRMC affiliate clinic.
Through this process, the goal of the GRMC board has been to find a partner who can help with information technology investments, physician recruitment, and long-term viability, among other things.
“Not every independent community hospital in Iowa is so fortunate to be so strongly desired by all three health care systems in Iowa,” Reding said. “We are indebted to the wonderful support we have received from the communities we are privileged to serve. It most certainly put us in this enviable position. We are also fortunate for the ongoing dedication of the extraordinary volunteers, employees, and medical staff we have here in Grinnell.”
“We get what each organization does best, while building on the strengths of GRMC,” Fogle said.
About Grinnell Regional Medical Center
Grinnell Regional Medical Center is a private, nonprofit and non-tax supported medical center, serving more than 40,000 residents in a six-county rural area of east central Iowa. A 49-bed hospital with 50 physicians and allied healthcare professionals, 350 employees, and more than 200 volunteers, GRMC provides an array of services from birth to end-of-life. Specialties include anesthesiology; ear, nose and throat; emergency medicine; family medicine; general surgery; internal medicine; obstetrics; pain management; pathology; podiatry; radiology; rheumatology; and urology. Visiting specialists in 11 areas provide additional specialty care for area residents.
About UnityPoint Health
UnityPoint Health is one of the nation’s most integrated health systems. Through relationships with more than 280 physician clinics, 33 hospitals in metropolitan and rural communities and home services throughout its nine regions, UnityPoint Health provides care throughout Iowa, Western Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. UnityPoint Health entities employ more than 30,000 employees, working toward innovative advancements to deliver the Best Outcome, Every Patient, Every Time.TM UnityPoint Health is the nation’s 13th largest nonprofit health system and the fourth largest nondenominational health system in America.
About University of Iowa Health Care
University of Iowa Health Care represents the integrated health care enterprise of the University of Iowa, which includes UI Hospitals and Clinics, UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, and UI Physicians. These partners work together to provide patient care, conduct biomedical research, and train the next generation of health professionals. UI Hospitals and Clinics—recognized as one of the best hospitals in the United States—is Iowa’s only comprehensive academic medical center and a regional referral center. The UI Hospitals and Clinics rank among the nation’s best in cancer, gynecology, neurology and neurosurgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, and urology care. Among pediatric specialties, UI of Children’s Hospital is ranked among the nation’s best in cancer, cardiology/heart surgery, diabetes, neonatology, nephrology, orthopedics, and pulmonology. In 2014, UI Health Care employed 1,617 physicians, residents, and fellows, and 6,730 non-physician employees, including 1,904 nurses. UI Health Care’s mission is: Changing Medicine. Changing Lives.