QVMC announces move toward Samaritan
The Legacy Project of Quincy Valley Medical Center took a major step forward with the announcement of one signed agreement and another one in the works, both of which would align QVMC with Samaritan Healthcare of Moses Lake.
One of the principles of QVMC’s Legacy Project, unveiled about two years ago, was to partner with a larger health care organization, and QVMC officials and a commissioner of the Port of Quincy, Brian Kuest, have been seeking that regional partner.
The first agreement puts QVMC in a new regional group of hospitals called Grand Columbia Health Alliance, or GCHA, to collaborate on regional interests and efficiencies in delivering health care, with Samaritan at the center.
The second agreement is still being worked on, but QVMC and Samaritan have informally agreed to move in the direction of an alignment, above and beyond the relationship within GCHA, one that would fulfill the Legacy Project’s goal of QVMC partnering with a regional health system.
The announcement came at a Dec. 12 meeting at Quincy Valley Business & Conference Center, before the Port of Quincy commissioners held their usual meeting in the same room.
Glenda Bishop, CEO of Quincy Valley Medical Center, opened the meeting before a collection of leaders of local organizations, including the port commissioners and several commissioners of Grant County Public Hospital District 2, which runs QVMC, and introduced Theresa Sullivan, CEO of Samaritan.
Sullivan gave an overview of Moses Lake-based Samaritan and said it has a goal to grow as a regional health organization. And it is growing: Samaritan added about 50 to its staff in 2018, reaching 580, Sullivan said. It is also looking at a large potential building project – a clinic and a hospital – in Moses Lake, Sullivan said.
She also provided some background on Grand Columbia Health Alliance, saying it consists of six Columbia Basin hospitals: in Othello, Ritzville, Moses Lake, Odessa, Ephrata, and now Quincy. They will collaborate where it makes sense, each continuing to operate independently in their service areas as they are, unchanged.
Sullivan also spoke about working toward a special partnership with QVMC beyond GCHA. At the close of the presentation, Bishop said that discussions were in the early stages but was very enthusiastic about the prospect of aligning with Samaritan.
Earlier in QVMC’s search for a regional partner, in August 2018, QVMC updated the community on the process. The search focus had been narrowed to one potential partner: MultiCare Health System, which has hospitals and services across the state. The talks with MultiCare were preliminary, Bishop emphasized at the time, but the prospect was upbeat.
On Jan. 7, Bishop and Kuest said that MultiCare is essentially out of the picture for now.
As the search for a regional partner went on and throughout the Legacy Project process, QVMC’s relationship with Samaritan grew. Sullivan has been steadily involved with the Legacy Project meetings during the past two years, Bishop and Kuest said. Then they posed the question to Sullivan directly: What if Quincy were to partner with Samaritan?
“I think we’ve done a very good job with our due diligence,” Kuest said, adding that Samaritan brings everything to the table that Quincy needs. He later added, “They always had a positive response to any questions we had.”
Sullivan “showed us an organization positioning itself well” to serve the needs in Quincy Valley into the future, Bishop said. She listed things the two hospital systems share: geographic location (neighbors); being locally owned; both are an important part of their community; their governing bodies are similar; both are tax supported; and both understand their economic impact.
Bishop said the two hospitals are looking at possibilities such as sharing physicians and QVMC relying on Samaritan’s specialists, to give Quincy patients an open channel to greater services.
“It’s a win for Quincy,” Bishop said.
An agreement could be completed in the first quarter of this year, Kuest said. A management services agreement has been drawn up and is being reviewed in Quincy.
“We really want to re-create the model of health care in Quincy,” Bishop said, adding that this goal has always been part of the Legacy Project.
The changes could also include a name change for QVMC – the sign out front might include the Samaritan name in some form. Changing the image is “part of the commitment to the community we made,” Bishop said.
The emergency services at QVMC, which the Quincy public has identified as a top priority, remains a top priority, Bishop said.
Attorneys will have a good look at an agreement before it is voted on by the Quincy hospital district board. A vote is not scheduled at this point, but Samaritan knows that Quincy wants to move quickly.
Kuest’s role, as an adviser representing the port, continues. The port commissioners will not have a vote on an agreement between QVMC and Samaritan, but the port is still pursuing the same goals as when the Legacy Project began.
Bishop said that the hospital district board has welcomed the port’s involvement.
By Dave Burgess, email@example.com