Pickens, Anderson hospitals collaborate for growth

Lonnie Adamson Editor/General Manager

December 19, 2013

PICKENS –Strengthened medical service in northern Pickens County is cited as a chief reason for a closer agreement signed between Cannon Memorial Hospital and AnMed Health.

The alliance is also believed to bring strengths to AnMed’s patient base.

The new relationship between the Pickens hospital and the growing Anderson healthcare institution is described as an integration in which Cannon maintains three members on a seven-member governing board.

More broadly, administrators from both hospitals describe the relationship as a one that they will bring more primary care physicians to outlying areas and more specialists to Pickens.

The agreement becomes effective Jan. 1.

“As the national health care landscape changes, AnMed Health works continually to adjust and stay ahead of those changes,” said AnMed Health CEO John A. Miller Jr. “Today, efficiency in health care is found in building solid relationships and networks to handle financial, technological and medical challenges. Our integrated relationship with Cannon Memorial Hospital is part of that strategy.”

A new board of trustees will be formed for Cannon, consisting of members of the currently-existing board and representatives from AnMed Health.

At an announcement Wednesday morning, Bill Manson, AnMed’s president and COO, said one focus of the integration will be to help ensure the presence of primary care physicians in smaller communities out lying Pickens.

His response came in answer to a question from Six Mile Mayor Roy Stoddard. Stoddard wanted to know whether the connection between the two hospitals would improve things for his community.

Cannon CEO Norman Rentz said the Pickens hospital has worked hard to encourage primary care in Pickens. The agreement with AnMed offers potential for growing specialties like cardiology and urology in Pickens, services never before available close to home.

He said specialist tend to avoid operating alone in a small communities because they would lack sufficient base of patients and no backup coverage on calls. The connection with AnMed offers the potential for Anderson specialists to open branches in Pickens, working at least portions of the week there.

The specialist battle is one that Cannon has been fighting for years, said Cannon board member Linda Cassell. The Pickens CPA will also serve on the new board of the integrated operation.

The integration plan is the latest stop on a journey that began with the two institutions in 2009 when AnMed Health and Cannon formalized an affiliation agreement. The two health systems have worked together ever since to bring greater economic efficiencies and high quality health care to the people of Pickens.

Cassell said she has seen a dramatic improvement in Cannons buying power and savings on purchases through the preceding agreement.

AnMed Health has contributed to the successful operation of Cannon Memorial Hospital in areas such as physician practice management, managed care contracting and group purchasing.

According to Rentz, it’s a good move for the Pickens hospital.

“Cannon Memorial Hospital has had a long history of providing quality health care services to patients in Pickens County,” Rentz said. “It is our goal to continue to provide needed services and to grow the types of services we can offer. The health care industry is changing rapidly, and often such rapid shifts in the health care environment limit a smaller hospital’s capacity to effectively provide the necessary and diverse services expected by its community. AnMed Health shares our commitment to quality and patient-centered healthcare and Cannon believes that integrating with AnMed Health will better position Cannon Memorial to provide quality, innovative, and specialized care to all residents of Pickens County. We are extremely pleased that AnMed Health is making this commitment to Cannon and Pickens County so that we can offer even more services to the community.”

Cannon Memorial Hospital employees will continue to work for Cannon and maintain their Cannon benefits. They will report to the same supervisors as before. Cannon’s CEO and CFO were already AnMed Health employees under the previous agreement created in 2009.

“Both institutions already have benefited from the relationship over the last few years. This integration creates opportunities for Cannon Memorial to realize even greater financial efficiencies,” Miller said. “This agreement is an avenue to more medical resources for the Pickens community. At our heart, we’re very similar institutions except for size. Both were founded by individuals who wanted better health care for their communities.”

Both organizations will benefit from a larger network of colleagues and professional relationships, but daily job responsibilities and reporting structure will not change for employees of AnMed Health or Cannon Memorial Hospital.

Cannon Memorial Hospital started in 1947 as a three-room clinic, and now stands as a modern 55-bed facility with over 60 staff physicians. Services provided by Cannon include inpatient and outpatient services, a critical care unit, a 24-hour Emergency Department, nuclear medicine, radiology, laboratory, physical therapy, sleep clinic, and wellness programs. For more information about Cannon Memorial Hospital, go online to www.CannonHospital.org.

The AnMed Health system is home to more than 40 physician practices and a medical staff of almost 500 physicians specializing in primary care, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopaedics, cardiology, vascular medicine, electrophysiology, gastroenterology and several surgery specialties. To learn more about AnMed Health, go online to www.AnMedHealth.org.