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Palmetto Health and GHS launch an unprecedented collaboration
03/12/2009
Baptist Easley to become new entity...

EASLEY, S.C.—Palmetto Health Baptist Easley hospital, together with the state’s two largest healthcare systems, will launch an unprecedented collaboration that will enhance health care in the Upstate in a cost-effective manner by increasing access, improving quality and facilitating the coordination of patient care in the community hospital.

Palmetto Health and Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center (GHS) approved a measure on Tuesday, Jan. 13 that will allow them to create a new entity to own and operate the award-winning 50-year-old Easley community hospital. Through the 50/50 joint venture, the 109-bed hospital presently owned and operated by Palmetto Health, the state’s largest health care system headquartered in Columbia, will now also integrate with GHS and its 380-physician Upstate network. Baptist Easley will become a free-standing 501(c) 3 healthcare organization, with an eight-member governing board that will include representatives of the Easley community.

Palmetto Health Baptist Easley COO Roddey E. Gettys III – who will become the new entity’s CEO – said he was excited by the prospect. “As a Palmetto Health hospital, we couldn’t have a better partner than GHS. The two will help us continue to provide outstanding patient care while broadening the spectrum of high-quality local care available at those kinds of tertiary centers.”

The hospital’s new name – to be decided later – will certainly retain some form of “Baptist Easley” as part of that name.

“One of the greatest advantages of this joint venture,” said Palmetto Health CEO Charles D. Beaman Jr., “is the opportunity to collaborate with Greenville Hospital System. GHS CEO Mike Riordan and I have developed a close working relationship through the S.C. Hospital Association and our roles on the Health Sciences South Carolina board since he arrived more than two years ago. Working together in the Upstate makes the best sense and provides opportunities for an increased level of services for both of our systems.”

“In this economically challenging time – where all of us must be particularly vigilant in meeting our financial responsibilities – collaboration makes more sense than ever,” concluded Beaman.

GHS President and CEO Michael Riordan agreed. “Through collaboration, hospitals can more effectively manage costs and avoid unnecessary duplication. More important, we can do what we’re supposed to do – offer high-quality patient care in the best manner possible. Such innovative collaborations will become even more important nationally and here in South Carolina as we look at reforming the way health care is delivered and paid for.”

The proximity of GHS subspecialists will allow Baptist Easley patients to receive more efficient care on complex cases that require sub-specialists not currently available at Baptist Easley. “Many specialty services are already at Baptist Easley. The key here is that it further expands the ability for patients and physicians in Pickens County to take advantage of a strong relationship with the closest tertiary provider,” said Riordan.

This initiative increases access to primary, specialty and subspecialty physician care that the new hospital will bring to the community. Easley’s 200-physician medical staff will continue with the same rights and privileges they currently enjoy and its employed physicians will have opportunities to work with both Baptist Easley and GHS. Patients also will benefit from clinical integration opportunities that combine the best practices from each of the entities.

One of the initial interests for Baptist Easley will be the development of an outpatient center on Highway 153 in the fast-growing Powdersville community. The proposed DHEC-approved project will be designed and built around ambulatory services to meet the needs of the community.

GHS will pay $45 million for a 50 percent interest in the newly reconstituted Baptist Easley hospital. GHS also will commit to match approximately $4 million currently held by the Baptist Easley Foundation. These contributions are used to support the hospital in its important philanthropic outreach in the community.

Gettys said employees and physicians alike were energized by the prospect of aligning more tightly with long-time neighbor GHS. Baptist Easley’s almost 900 employees should not see any changes under the new agreement, which provides for them to continue their current employment with Palmetto Health until such time as the new board would choose to create its own HR function and benefits plan.

“We are excited about this collaborative opportunity with Palmetto Health and Baptist Easley,” said GHS board chairperson Frances Ellison. “Our mission calls upon us as trustees to take care of the healthcare needs in our community and also to ensure that we remain financially strong. This collaboration meets both of these fiduciary responsibilities.”

“Providing quality care for Pickens County has been this hospital’s mission and pledge for fifty years,” said Palmetto Health board chairman William L. Cogdill, Jr. “Our decision to continue that proud tradition with our collaborative partners at Greenville Hospital System is one that we believe gives the community the best opportunity for access to the highest level of quality care possible. This great community deserves nothing less. We are proud to continue our commitment to Easley and Pickens County with this new vision.”

Palmetto Health Baptist Easley has been the primary service provider in Pickens County for 50 years. In recent years, the hospital has achieved national and statewide recognition for its quality improvement and patient, employee and physician satisfaction ratings.
The hospital was named one of four hospitals in America to receive the prestigious Premier Orthopaedic Award for Hip and Knee Replacement in 2006. In addition, it was the only hospital in the country to receive the acclaimed “Fire Starter” award twice from The Studer Group, the national healthcare service consulting firm. In 2008, Easley received the South Carolina Governor’s Quality Award, which recognizes organizations for developing, implementing and deploying quality management systems based on the national Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award criteria.

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