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Memorial, Danville hospitals team up

Thursday, September 12, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin staff writer

Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County and Danville Regional Medical Center announced Wednesday they will establish a regional health care delivery system intended to improve their services.

The hospitals, both owned by LifePoint Hospitals of Brentwood, Tenn., are not merging. Both will continue to have large amounts of autonomy as well as separate boards, chief administrators and executive leadership teams, but roles of certain administrators will expand, officials said Wednesday.

Because the regional system still is in the planning stages, full details of what it will involve are not yet available.

But, officials said, it will enable the hospitals to increase their collaborative efforts, which they hope ultimately will mean being able to offer more services and improve patients’ access to medical care.

Patients likely will not notice any changes in the day-to-day operations of either hospital, said Eric Deaton, Danville Regional’s chief executive officer.

An immediate benefit of the Memorial-Danville collaboration, officials said, is that collaborations between Danville and Duke University Health System, such as in cardiology care, can be extended to Memorial. Further details on that were not available.

The Memorial-Danville collaboration is not a cost-cutting effort or a direct attempt to achieve operating efficiencies, although efficiencies that do not harm patient care always are welcome, Deaton said.

Both hospitals already are “pretty efficient” in terms of their operations, said Deaton, who has received the job title “South Central Virginia market president.” He still will be Danville Regional’s top executive, but he also will have oversight of Memorial.

Skip Philips, Memorial’s chief executive officer, will retain that position, but he also will be involved in both hospitals’ operations, a release showed.

The two hospitals “already enjoy strong working relationships,” Philips said. “Collaborating to create a new regional health care delivery system will allow us to continue to grow and succeed” as the health care industry undergoes rapid change “while improving and growing patient services.”

Dr. Saria Saccocio, Danville Regional’s chief medical officer, has been named the chief medical officer for the South Central Virginia market.

A nationwide search is being conducted to fill the chief operating officer’s position at Danville Regional, according to the release.

Administrators are examining how the hospitals can better coordinate their senior management, finance, human resources, physician services, business development and marketing efforts.

Deaton said he expects no job cuts at either hospital. However, he indicated that if an administrative position opening occurs in one of those operational areas at either hospital, officials will determine whether the corresponding administrator at the other can handle the duties for both hospitals.

Already, some doctors affiliated with Memorial, including cardiologists and pathologists, also are affiliated with Danville Regional. The hospitals aim to extend opportunities for other physicians in one community to extend their practices to the other community, Saccocio said.

That would include temporary measures, such as if a doctor in one locality has to be out of his office for an extended time and needs a specialist in his field to care for his patients while he is gone, officials said.

But “we’re not going to ask” any doctor who does not want to travel back and forth between Martinsville and Danville to do so, Deaton said.

Generally, officials with the hospitals believe they can do more to benefit patients the more they work together, he said.

He quoted an old African proverb that states, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”


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