April 16, 2014

Medina
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Hospital officials: Sale to bring more specialized care

Officials at Lodi Community Hospital are hoping becoming part of a national health care system will provide more specialized medical care and upgraded facilities for patients.

Akron General Health System announced last week that the national hospital chain Community Health Systems will partner with Cleveland Clinic to purchase Akron General and its satellite facilities, including the Lodi hospital.

Including subsidiaries, Community Health Systems owns, leases or operates 135 hospitals in 29 states and boasted 2012 revenues of $13 billion.

Thom Whelan, Akron General’s president of community and specialty hospitals, said more local access to specialists and major facility improvements are Lodi’s two primary hopes for a future under new ownership.

Whelan said that while Lodi saw a major improvement and expansion to its emergency department in 2006 and its outpatient rehabilitation area earlier this year, the hospital still needs major reconstruction of inpatient service areas and the operating room.

Tomi Galen, vice president of corporate communications for Community Health Systems, said the partnership will help Akron General and Lodi — Medina County’s oldest hospital — to make those improvements.

“Affiliation with Community Health Systems and the Cleveland Clinic will provide Akron General with many advantages to further advance the quality care already provided, including access to clinical resources, capital investments, physician recruitment, management expertise and group purchasing power,” she said.

Consolidation and merging is not new to health care in Medina County.

This week will mark four years since Cleveland Clinic took over Medina Hospital.

“There is a lot of consolidation and strategic partnerships going on across the board,” said Ann Houston, chief strategic officer for Cleveland Clinic. “People are thinking and doing a lot of work on how we can improve the health care model; how to improve the quality, while making it more cost effective.”

Medina President Dr. Tom Tulisiak said the benefits of the merger with Cleveland Clinic have been substantial.

“Hospital leadership recognized that patients were seeking help elsewhere for subspecialty services and others that they really should be able to get here at home,” he said. “We now have high-risk obstetrics and neonatology units and pediatric subspecialties, from Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, as well as an onsite heart clinic and cardiac rehabilitation center.”

He said they’ve seen and increase in surgeries and births as well as overall admissions. Medina has also been recognized by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Hospitals as a primary stroke center.

But Houston said that, unlike Medina, Lodi will be owned and operated by Community Health Systems. The Cleveland Clinic will provide support in clinical program development and quality improvement.

“We have a lot of details we haven’t even thought about yet,” she said. “A local board will identify what goods and services they would like to see and we will go through and work to prioritize and improve those areas.”

Negotiations will begin soon, officials say, and a deal could be finalized later this year.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com