Metro-East News

Anderson Hospital to affiliate with Staunton hospital

Nurse Jan Stewart in 2012 attends to a surgery patient at Anderson Hospital in Maryville.
Nurse Jan Stewart in 2012 attends to a surgery patient at Anderson Hospital in Maryville.

Anderson Hospital in Maryville and Community Memorial Hospital in Staunton will attempt to form a partnership in the coming months, having signed a letter of intent to affiliate.

“The Community Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees and Administration are excited and pleased to take the next step to ensure we are keeping quality healthcare close to home with signing the letter of intent to form an affiliation with Anderson Hospital,” said Sue Campbell, Community Memorial Hospital’s CEO. “Our hometown healthcare will be stronger and better with this affiliation, and it will provide additional access to Anderson’s advanced diagnostics, specialty care and resources to better serve our patients.”

Community Memorial Hospital is a 25-bed not-for-profit hospital described as “short-stay” on its website. It opened in 1951. Anderson Hospital opened in 1977 and has 154 beds, serving more than 90,000 people per year.

“Community Memorial Hospital and Anderson Hospital have a history of working together cooperatively to improve access to healthcare services for the residents of Macoupin County and northern Madison County,” said Keith Page, president and CEO of Anderson Hospital. “As healthcare continues to evolve, our organizations will be better positioned to adapt to change together so that we can continue to provide coordinated, quality care, close to home.”

Page said the hospitals will consider two options during their due diligence process for the structure the organization might take after their affiliation —which means it might not be a full merger. While Page said he could not go into specifics until the boards of both hospitals have been fully briefed, both scenarios include the Staunton hospital becoming part of the Anderson network.

Staunton is a smaller “critical access” hospital, Page said, which has been looking for a relationship to help them grow the services they offer and take advantage of the economy of scale offered by a larger hospital network. Anderson sees this as an opportunity to grow the footprint of the communities it serves, Page said.

“We offer services that are more medically complex, so if patients would need to be transferred, we would be able to offer that,” he said.

In practicality, for example, a cancer patient in Staunton who must travel long distances to receive treatment might be able to access more specialized care closer to home thanks to this affiliation, Page said.

The community needs assessment for the Staunton hospital shows that its coverage area has poverty and unemployment rates slightly higher than the rest of the state, with a higher incidence of diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure. For the last five years, health officials have been focusing on the health needs of the elderly, prevention efforts for drug and alcohol abuse and for obesity and diabetes.

Anderson’s community needs assessment focuses on its primary service area of Madison County. Its population is somewhat more diverse — 88 percent white residents vs. 98 percent for Macoupin County — with a smaller ratio of senior citizens. Key priorities for Anderson have been health and wellness education, prevention efforts for obesity and substance abuse, mental health awareness and emergency preparedness, as well as a focus on charity health care. Anderson is currently in the process of developing a new needs assessment, according to Jessica Duft, director of education and health management.

The proposed affiliation will be under negotiation for months, and once both hospitals have agreed to the details, it must be approved by federal and state regulatory agencies. Page said the due diligence period offers an opportunity to look at detailed information for both hospitals, their contractual relationships and finances. The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board will have to rule on a certificate of exemption to approve any affiliation, he said, and there may be review required from federal agencies as well.

Page said they hope to complete the due diligence period by the end of the year, with the actual closing of the deal in the first quarter of 2016.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald