RRHS affiliation in 'due diligence phase'

Mar. 28, 2013 @ 06:04 AM

The finalization of an affiliation agreement between Rutherford Regional Health System (RRHS) and Mission Health Systems, Inc. remain in discussions, according to RRHS CEO Cindy Buck.

On Wednesday, Buck said that the agreement process, which has been ongoing since September 2012 is still being devised between the two organizations.

“The affiliation process is currently in the due diligence phase," Buck said in an email to The Daily Courier. "During this time the organizations mutually share information directly and through their respective legal and consulting teams so that they can more fully understand one another and engage in a dialogue of how to best serve the community, prior to a definitive agreement being reached for an affiliation."

The RRHS Board of Trustees moved forward and began negotiations with Mission on a potential partnership in September 2012 and, in January 2013, the two parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for affiliation.

According to RRHS officials in January, the non-binding agreement allows the hospital to become an affiliate of Mission and authorized the RRHS Board of Trustees to complete negotiations regarding the partnership.

Under the proposed MOU, 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 benefiting the health and wellness of the community.

In February, Buck responded to an editorial from The Daily Courier asking specific questions about the potential affiliation. In that response, Buck said that the RRHS Board of Trustees "will have 80 percent of board members coming from the local community" and that the hiring and firing of RRHS management will continue to come from an executive team appointed by the RRHS CEO and approved by both boards of Mission and RRHS.

In addition, all employees, with the exception of the RRHS CEO will remain employees of RRHS. The CEO position will become under the umbrella of Mission Health.

During the due diligence phase, Buck said that both Mission and RRHS will identify initiatives and resources that will be required as part of the affiliation agreement. RRHS officials said that will include capital requirements, medical service providers and new and expanded services.

“Rutherford Regional Health System and Mission Health are each assessing departments, evaluating community needs, identifying opportunities for potential improvements and growth possibilities among other matters that would be outlined in a definitive agreement," Buck said Wednesday.