UPDATE: St. Vincent, UAMS Exploring 'Potential Affiliation'

by Mark Friedman  on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012 3:14 pm  

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and St. Vincent Health System said Wednesday that the two are exploring a "potential affiliation."

In statement, the two said they believe "there are tremendous opportunities to collaboratively improve the quality of care, reduce the cost of care, and expand access to care while preserving the history and heritage of our health systems."

The statement revealed few details about what an affiliation might look like. But it noted that "any affiliation that is pursued will preserve UAMS' public identity and St. Vincent's Catholic identity including women's and reproductive health care services." UAMS is a state-owned entity. St. Vincent is operated by Catholic Health Initiatives.

Leslie Taylor, associate vice chancellor for communications at UAMS, said she couldn't provide much more information about the possible affiliation.

"It's not a merger," Taylor told The Associated Press. "UAMS and St. Vincent Health are both entities that are dedicated to serving the public and the public good and we've just been engaged in informal and exploratory discussion on ways that we might collectively do this."

Taylor said they would share more details on Thursday.

On Monday, St. Vincent CEO Peter Banko told Arkansas Business that the health system was talking with hospitals and physician groups about joining St. Vincent.

Banko declined to say which groups he was talking with. He said "we'll see some partnerships … emerge" within the next year or two.

The moves are driven by health care reform, which is driving hospitals and physicians to be more effective and efficient.

"We think there's going to be two or three large networks emerging in the state, so we're trying to position ourselves as one of those," Banko told Arkansas Business.

Last week, Banko announced that Chad S. Aduddell would be CEO of St. Vincent's flagship hospital, St. Vincent Infirmary. St. Vincent previously didn't have a CEO position at the hospital.

Banko said that adding Aduddell will give him "the opportunity to spend my time completely focused on building a regional and statewide health network."



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