SENECA — Greenville Health System and Oconee Medical Center have approved a non-binding agreement that calls for Oconee Medical Center to join GHS as part of an integrated health system benefiting patients in Oconee County and other communities served by the system.
The Letter of Intent was approved by the Oconee Medical Center Board of Directors and the GHS Board of Trustees.
“This agreement follows more than two months of analysis and discussion between our two organizations about whether and how to move forward,” said Rick Phillips, board chairman of Oconee Medical Center. “We are pleased to take this important step toward enhancing the delivery of high quality local healthcare services to the people of Oconee County and surrounding communities.”
Under the preliminary agreement, the affiliation could take the form of a long-term lease of at least 50 years and include full integration of Oconee Medical Center into the operations of GHS. Oconee would continue to have its own medical staff that welcomes providers and licensed caregivers who hold credentials to practice at the hospital.
The two organizations will spend the next two months performing due diligence pre-integration planning, which will result in final agreements for consideration by both boards in June.
“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to affiliate within our region with an organization of the caliber of Greenville Health System,” said Jeanne Ward, Oconee Medical Center’s president and CEO. “By working together and sharing resources, we will be better able to improve the health of the communities we serve.”
Close collaboration has already benefitted those communities through a state-of the-art cancer treatment program that links patients to research in Greenville, an innovative telemedicine stroke care initiative and an enhanced cardiac care program that’s considered a model for the state. The latter is a joint initiative of Oconee Medical Center, its County wide EMS division, GHS and GHS’ air-ambulance service.
“We are very excited to take another step toward Oconee Medical Center becoming an integral part of Greenville Health System,” said Michael Riordan, president and CEO of GHS. “Together, we can make a positive impact on the health of the communities we serve by improving access, quality and value.
“Moving forward, we believe that health systems are going to have to deliver health care in a very different way in order to ensure that the right care is delivered at the right place at the right time,” added Riordan. “We believe the most successful health systems will develop multi-community integrated delivery systems that focus on keeping people healthier over their entire lives. The old episodic way of treating patients simply isn’t working anymore and too often results in fragmented or insufficient care. We’re all living in a more challenging healthcare climate now. It only makes sense to work together.”
Oconee Medical Center and GHS approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in January announcing its intention to explore a potential affiliation. Since that time, a consulting firm has conducted an intensive study of the potential benefits of such an affiliation and delivered its report to a task force made up of two administrators and three board members from each organization. That task force recommended the approval of a Letter of Intent as part of the ongoing negotiations.
Over the past five years or more, Oconee Medical Center has met with interested regional not-for-profit healthcare organizations and several for-profit companies to learn about potential opportunities to affiliate. The regional not-for-profit organizations are all based in other states, as are the for-profit organizations. Oconee Medical Center’s Board of Directors chose GHS based in part on a desire to affiliate with a South Carolina-based organization that shares similar values and a commitment to the health of the people of the Upstate region.
“Health care is changing dramatically and rapidly,” Ward said. “By taking this step with a partner who shares our vision, values of clinical quality and has a connection to the community, we can ensure that Oconee Medical Center doesn’t just survive – but thrives and continues to deliver the outstanding care that our region expects and deserves.”