Marquette General Health, Bell Hospital Affiliation Now Official

John Commins, July 15, 2010

Superior Health Partners trustees have finalized the formal affiliation agreement that went into effect on July 1 between Marquette General Hospital and Bell Hospital in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Elected board officers are outlining initial priorities for the accountable care organization, the health system announced today.

"With the legal documents signed, our new board officers in place and our strategic plan outlined, we can move forward with plans to create an accountable care organization which relies on close hospital partnerships, collaborative alignment with physicians, robust information technology infrastructure and operational expense management," says SHP Board Chairman Tim Larson, who is also Marquette General Health System board chairman.

The legal documents forming the affiliation were signed at the SHP Board's first official meeting, which was held at Bell Hospital. The new board also adopted formal strategic plan priorities.

Elected SHP Board officers include: Larson; Vice Chairman Robert DellAngelo, MD; and Secretary/Treasurer Ron Katers. Gary Muller, MGHS president/CEO since 2007, was named SHP president/CEO.

"It's the goal of SHP to build an accountable care organization that can serve the entire Upper Peninsula," Muller says. "The partnership between Marquette General and Bell, and the potential for other hospitals to join SHP, puts our region way ahead of the curve both from a statewide and national perspective. It is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of our planning on improving regional healthcare quality and access, as well as strengthening the incredible healthcare economic engine healthcare represents in the U.P."

Muller said key to initial SHP success will be physician recruitment. "By enhancing physician recruitment efforts, the number of services and specialties available will be greatly increased, and patients will have access to more services in the Upper Peninsula," he says. "That, in turn, means more jobs for U.P. residents. There is an old saying the U.P. that our region's best export is our youth. Healthcare is creating the types of jobs that we hope will eventually render that old saying obsolete."

The strategic affiliation creates a healthcare network with more than 3,000 employees under its combined MGH-Bell umbrella. MGH, in Marquette, is a 315-bed regional referral center. Bell Hospital, in Ishpeming, MI, is a 25-bed critical access hospital.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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