MARQUETTE -In late 2008 and early 2009, Marquette General Health System announced partnerships with several other Upper Peninsula hospitals, sharing common goals and offering coordinated services to their patients.
In December, Marquette General Health System and Dickinson County Healthcare System, in Iron Mountain, signed a three-year affiliation agreement. Called a Partners in Leadership Agreement, it was designed to enable both health care systems to formally share their clinical and administrative expertise.
According to MGHS, the new affiliation agreement will enhance the abilities of both MGHS and DCHS to meet objectives in the delivery of healthcare services to their respective communities.
From left, Jim Bogan, Portage Health CEO; A. Gary Muller, Marquette General Health System president and CEO; and John Trembreull, Baraga County Memorial Hospital CEO. The three hospitals announced partnership agreements in 2008, including improving patient referral and transfer systems, a collaborative marketing plan, enhancing communication among regional providers, and coordinating an information technology plan. (MGHS photo)
The two hospitals already had shared some services; MGHS and DCHS have worked collaboratively since 2000 on radiation therapy services for cancer patients, tele-health and the U.P. Regional Blood Center.
"As the healthcare industry continues to face the challenges of rising costs and shrinking federal and state reimbursements and the need to continue to provide care that is still affordable for its patients, healthcare leaders need to find creative and innovative solutions," said John Schon, DCHS administrator and CEO, in a prepared statement.
"Marquette's broad expertise as a Regional Medical Center, for example, could help our patients by helping our hospital provide medical specialties in Dickinson County that are currently not available," Schon said. "Certain specialties can only exist when there is a large enough population to support them. I see the sharing of physicians as being an area with great potential."
MGHS President and CEO A. Gary Muller agreed.
"Rapid changes in the healthcare environment such as emerging technology, reimbursement issues and market competition make partnerships between organizations with aligned missions and values imperative," Muller said in a prepared statement.
In February, two Copper Country hospitals also entered partnership agreements with MGHS, which signed another three-year affiliation agreement with Baraga County Memorial Hospital in L'Anse and Portage Health in Hancock.
"Baraga County Memorial Hospital has had long standing arrangements with both Portage Health and Marquette General Health System for a variety of services," said John Tembreull, BCMH's CEO, in a prepared statement. "We are especially proud to enter into this Partners In Achievement agreement, because we believe it represents a truly collaborative approach for the care of patients in our area. In particular, we see a coordinated approach to physician access and information exchange that will benefit our patients."
As part of the agreement, all three hospitals established a list of shared healthcare goals for Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties. They include a plan for medical staff recruitment and retention, an improved patient referral and transfer system, a collaborative marketing plan, a plan to enhance communication among regional providers, and a coordinated information technology plan.
"We are proud to strengthen our existing relationship with Baraga County Memorial Hospital and Marquette General Health System," said Jim Bogan, Portage Health CEO. "Together, as we develop the specifics of our relationship, we will continue to expand our shared expertise for health care delivery for the benefit of our patients in the western Upper Peninsula."
Similar affiliation agreements have been offered by MGHS to other hospitals throughout the UP. The affiliation agreements do not limit or restrict each hospital from developing similar partnerships with other healthcare facilities.
"We're pleased to have a tri-partnership with Baraga County Memorial Hospital and Portage Health as we move toward our common goal - supporting local health care delivery in market areas served by Baraga and Portage and strengthening the role of MGHS as the specialty referral center for the U.P. residents," said A. Gary Muller, MGHS president and CEO, in a prepared statement.
All three hospitals have worked collaboratively on services for many years, including hematology and oncology, tele-health, dialysis services, the U.P. Regional Blood Center and outreach clinics. Two Marquette specialists, Dr. Christian Dinsmore of Marquette General Neurology Associates and Dr. Irna Sachelarie of U.P. Hematology/Oncology Associates, are located full-time at Portage Health Internal Medicine, and provide outreach clinics at Baraga County Memorial Hospital.
Editor's note: Information for this article was provided by Marquette General Health Systems communications office.