Greenville Health System takes over Laurens County Health System effective July 1
Greenville Health System (GHS) is expanding its reach into Laurens County following a collaboration agreement with Laurens County Health System (LCHS) based in Clinton, S.C. Both healthcare providers’ boards approved the decision on June 21.
Under the new agreement, the 90-bed Laurens facility will become GHS’s sixth campus and be known as Greenville Health System Laurens County Memorial Hospital. According to Laurens County Health Care System officials, the provider has been investigating the possibility of partnering with larger neighboring healthcare systems for months.
The collaboration, effective July 1, was prompted by the need to provide effective care and make efficient use of funds, according to officials. W. Michael Ellison, chairman of the LCHS board of trustees, said in a statement, “We knew it made sense to become part of a larger health system to make better use of scarce dollars – and we wanted to work with someone that shared our vision, values of clinical quality, and, more important, had a long-standing connection to the community.”
According to GHS, Laurens will lease its facilities to GHS in a 40-year agreement. Established in 1989, Laurens County Health Care System has approximately 515 employees and roughly 115 full-time and consulting physicians. Laurens’ CEO Rich D’Alberto will become the campus president.
GHS CEO Mike Riordan said this week that the majority of the Laurens employees, approximately 480, would remain, while the Laurens system had been looking at staffing cuts prior to the agreement.
The integration will further solidify the treatment relationship that GHS has had with Laurens, including family practices and the NeuroDirect telemedicine stroke program, according to officials. Nearly a quarter of Laurens-area patients receive hospital services from GHS, approximately 50 miles away, especially in pediatric intensive care, cardiology and neurology.
Whether these specialty services will move out to Laurens County, said Riordan, will depend on a community needs assessment.
“We know there is already a strong comfort level for Laurens residents to use our services,” he said.
In other areas, Greenville Health System has a 50-percent partnership with Palmetto Health to operate Baptist Easley Hospital and take advantage of bulk purchasing, said Riordan. Palmetto Health, based in Columbia, has six facilities and approximately 8,500 employees. GHS is looking at other ways the two systems can work together, he said.
“And as the two largest healthcare systems in the state [GHS and Palmetto Health], I think we have the leadership responsibility to have that dialogue,” he said.
GHS also has a strong clinical relationship with Oconee Medical Center in Seneca, S.C., said Riordan. As far as integrating with others systems, GHS’s clinical staff is looking to potentially collaborate with Self Regional Healthcare in Greenwood, S.C.
“We are open to talking with anybody,” he said. The changing healthcare environment has forced providers that once did not communicate to collaborate, he said.
A community needs assessment will be done every other year in Laurens, according to Riordan. The Laurens hospital board will continue to have a role in providing input on care needs and also on a new CEO, if needed, he said.
The recent agreement comes in a flurry of collaboration among Upstate healthcare providers in the last year, particularly in cancer care. GHS merged with Cancer Centers of the Carolinas in July 2012, and Bon Secours St. Francis inked a partnership with Gibbs Cancer Center of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System to provide cancer treatment services in June 2012.
Gibbs Cancer Center is an affiliate of the M.D. Anderson Physicians Network. St. Francis is set to break ground for the Millennium Cancer Center in November and open the center in November 2014, according to officials.