"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Friday, October 26, 2012

One of Fifteen

Recently, I read an article in the Baltimore Business Journal, "Maryland's Independent Hospitals Say Cost Pressures Taking Their Toll."  Due to continued financial pressures on hospitals along insufficient  resources to support continued operations, independent hospitals, of which WMHS is one, are gradually eroding away.  WMHS is one of only now fifteen independent hospitals in Maryland.  The majority of general hospitals, of which there are 46, have joined with one of the big three systems in Maryland: University of Maryland Medical System, MedStar or Johns Hopkins.  However, our goal is to continue to remain independent for as long as we possibly can...........and forever would be nice.   Our preference is to continue to have decisions related to health care be made in our own community, rather than 150 miles away. 

Shortly after we opened the new medical center, a friend and colleague from Johns Hopkins responsible for system development and outreach came for a visit.  He was very impressed with what he saw at WMHS.  However, when the subject of mergers and acquisitions was brought up by him, he informed me that the Hopkins acquisition strategy is "don't call us, we'll call you." If only he had told me that strategy when all of the rumors were circulating as the new hospital was being built that Johns Hopkins would be taking over upon completion.  At that time, I even had past and present members of the Western Maryland delegation calling me to ask if that rumor was true.  In the past, UMMS was interested in having preliminary discussions.  As for MedStar, they are a great organization just like the other two, but no expressed interest in WMHS and that is a good thing. 

It is especially challenging for those hospitals in the urban areas that are trying to remain independent.  The "big three" have unbelievable resources available to them and it is very difficult to compete with that.  At WMHS, we have strong working relationships with a number of hospitals, including UMMS linked to Trauma, Hopkins with our new Diabetic Medical Home, WVU with our neonatal program, and the list goes on.  Our board certainly keeps their fingers on the pulse of the industry and should the time come for WMHS to look at a partner, they will know.  Until then, it is my goal to remain independent and continue to provide the best possible care to our patients in our community.

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