Three community-based, not-for-profit health systems on the coast of north Florida and south Georgia today confirmed that they have signed an initial letter of intent to explore opportunities to collaborate. While the specifics of affiliation are yet to be defined, it is clear that it will not be a merger or acquisition.
This announcement comes shortly after the systems' boards concluded that there would be value in exploring strategies to work more closely together in a changing marketplace. One model under consideration is the creation of a contiguous health network spanning from St. Augustine to Jacksonville to Brunswick.
A key principle stated in the letter of intent is the preservation of strong local governance, community mission, and operating structures of each system. Any collaborative model considered wouldn't affect current licenses, and the participating systems would retain their current names -- in other words, no system would come under the branding of the other.
"Our systems serve contiguous geographic areas yet operate in distinct markets. We see this as an opportunity to protect and strengthen what we've each always done, while positioning ourselves to thrive in the future as a network of community-based, locally governed organizations. That community focus is our common core," said A. Hugh Greene, President & CEO of Baptist Health of Northeast Florida.
The systems expect for it to take several months to explore and refine the nature of their affiliation. At the top of their agendas is reassuring their respective employees and medical staffs that they will continue to function as they do now, under their current structures, policies and credentialing processes.
The systems indicated have a history of mutual support and cooperation and believe they have more to learn from one another. "Since its founding in 1889, Flagler Hospital has worked in cooperation with community leaders, area physicians and regional healthcare providers to ensure the highest level of care for our patients. Today, we look forward to further exploring ways this new coastal collaboration could benefit our patients, staff, local employers and our community through the sharing of best practices and achieving efficiencies that come with added scale," said Flagler Hospital President & CEO Joe Gordy.
"We are three healthy organizations and that puts us in an enviable position," said Gary R. Colberg, FACHE, president and CEO, Southeast Georgia Health System. "We are each coming from a place of strength and focusing on sustaining our community-based models for the long term. We don't know the details of our future collaboration yet, but those will become clearer as we work through the exciting possibilities before us."