RRHS signs affiliation memorandum

Jan. 23, 2013 @ 09:08 AM

After months of negotiations, Rutherford Regional health Systems (RRHS) and Mission Health Systems, Inc. have finalized a memorandum of understanding for affiliation.

The process of affiliation began in September when the RRHS Board of Trustees moved forward and began negotiations with Mission on a potential partnership.

According to RRHS officials, the non-binding agreement announced Tuesday will allow the hospital to become an affiliate of Mission and authorizes the RRHS board to complete negotiations regarding the partnership.

"We believe that joining with Mission will bring significant clinical and operational resources to our community," said Terry Hines, RRHS Board of Trustees chairman. "The partnership will enhance our ability to grow and provide more services to patients."

RRHS CEO Cindy Buck said that the local Board of Trustees will act with with a "level of autonomy."

"With RRHS, there will be local control, but it is not absolute," Buck said in an email to The Daily Courier. "However, Mission recognizes the importance of local governance and the reassurance that comes from a continued hospital identity at the local level."

Under the proposed agreement, the RRHS Board of Trustees will remain in place and have "a long-term voice" in the direction of the hospital. The memorandum also sets forth certain criteria such as strengthening the quality of care, protection of employees, improving the financial viability, enhancing services provided by RRHS and benefitting the health and wellness of the community.

Ronald Paulus, president and CEO of Mission said that they are "eager" to work with RRHS officials on an affiliation.

"Rutherford Regional and Mission Health both seek to provide our patients with safe, high-quality care that is convenient and close to home," Paulus said.

The next step in the process will be for RRHS and Mission to identify initiatives and resources that will be required as part of the affiliation deal. RRHS officials said that will include capital requirements, medical service providers and new and expanded services.

The end result will be a "definitive partnership" between both hospitals.

"The due diligence and negotiation process will take place beginning immediately and a definitive partnership agreement will be finalized at the completion of those processes," Buck said.

RRHS officials said that the hospital will also benefit with management expertise, assistance with physician recruitment and "a host of other capabilities" as part of the affiliation.

"The partnership will enhance our ability to grow and provide more services to patients," Hines said. "We are very excited about the tremendous benefits this opportunity offers our community, medical staff and employees."

There is no timeframe as to the conclusion of the final negotiations.