by Lance Turner
Posted 10/31/2013 04:24 pm
Updated 1 month ago
The Conway Regional Health System Board of Directors said Thursday that it is exploring "potential strategic affiliation options," including partnering with another health care provider or system.
The system, which said its board has been researching the options for "months," said it will invite potential partners to offer ideas about different affiliation options.
"If the board determines that a viable partnership proposal has been made that meets our goals, the board will then consider moving forward into formal contractual negotiations," Bart Throneberry, board chairman, said in a news release. "If and when that occurs, we will then announce our decision to our employees, volunteers, physicians and the community."
Jim Lambert, Conway Regional's president and CEO, told Arkansas Business the health system is close to sending requests for proposals about possible partnerships to regional and national health care organizations.
Lambert said they'd like to get responses back by around the first of the year so the board can decide in the first quarter whether the health system will pursue a partnership or continue on its own.
Conway Regional is the latest health system to explore a possible affiliation. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and St. Vincent Health System spent much of the last year pondering an agreement, which the two ultimately scuttled. In an unrelated deal, St. Vincent's parent, Catholic Health Initiatives, acquired Mercy Hot Springs hospital and physician clinic and put both under St. Vincent's control.
In a statement Thursday, Conway Regional noted the national trend toward hospital affiliations, a response to health care becoming "the target of federal and state regulations and funding cuts." It said the move is intended to ensure that its health system remains "well positioned in the future to provide health care services for Faulkner County and the north-central Arkansas area."
"Like many strong health care organizations across the country, Conway Regional Health System is evaluating options to ensure our strength well into the future," Throneberry said. "One of those options is the potential for a long-term strategic partnership with another hospital or health care system that has a similar commitment to mission, vision, high quality health care, patient safety and growth.
"This does not mean that Conway Regional is for sale. Over the past few years we have been closely watching the national trend of independent hospitals who have been taking similar steps that have resulted in positive outcomes for their community."
Conway Regional said it dicussed the prospect of affiliation at its planning retreat earlier this year. It has been working with a consultant to determine its options. Throneberry and Lambert both said system is in "a strong position," making now the right time to explore what's out there.
Conway Regional operates a 154-bed acute care nonprofit medical center, an outpatient imaging center, an outpatient surgery center, Conway Regional Rehabilitation Hospital and several primary care clinics.