By Anne Polta, West Central Tribune, March 9, WILLMAR – Carris Health has entered its third month, and although considerable work still lies ahead for the new local health care entity, the immediate transition has gone smoothly, say leaders of the organization.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of progress made. To me, that’s a testament to our people,” said Mike Schramm, Carris Health co-chief executive.
Effective Jan. 1, Affiliated Community Medical Centers and Rice Memorial Hospital joined forces to become Carris Health, a nonprofit subsidiary of CentraCare Health.
In one of the first signs of the changing role of the city-owned hospital’s board of directors, board members met this week to hear a progress report on the transition and review their responsibilities under the Carris Health agreement.
The agreement calls for the board to remain intact. Oversight will shift, however, to the lease agreement between Carris Health and the city and ensuring compliance with all the terms.
The hospital board had its first glimpse Wednesday of the reporting format that will be used to track and share information.
The documents included schedules and dollar amounts for lease and intergovernmental transfer payments to the city, as well as ongoing capital expenditures.
The executive team also is in the process of developing a mechanism for monitoring the lease agreement’s requirement to maintain specific core services at Rice Hospital.
One of the most immediate changes in the hospital board’s role was evident Wednesday: Medical staff credentialing is now handled by the Carris Health board and is no longer reviewed and voted on by the hospital board.
The repurposing of the board will likely unfold over time but will retain an emphasis on the hospital’s responsibility toward the community it serves, Schramm said. “We are still a community hospital and still here for the community.”
For most patients and the public, the initial weeks of Carris Health have been “business as usual,” he said.
But behind the scenes there has been substantial activity. “We’ve made tremendous forward progress,” Schramm said.
A new senior leadership team is now in place and the Carris Health board has begun meeting on a regular basis. More than 100 leaders from Rice, ACMC and CentraCare gathered in Willmar recently for an operations integration meeting and kickoff.
There is still some anxiety about the unknowns, Schramm acknowledged. “We’re going to continue to get answers to questions people have,” he said.
But there also are lots of conversations about services and functions and how to work better together, he said.
Kathy Dillon, chief nursing officer, said she sees people eager to share ideas and learn from each other.
“There’s a lot of leaders that are very energetic,” she said. “A common denominator is what’s best for the patient.”
Since Jan. 1, there has even been more recruitment interest from doctors, Schramm said. It’s unclear whether the launch of Carris Health is directly responsible but leaders of the organization are taking it as a good sign for the future of the new organization, he said. “We do think it’s going to help us for recruitment.”
Just how far the integration of the three entities has progressed was visible at a recent joint meeting. Teri Beyer, chief quality officer, said employees from Rice, ACMC and CentraCare were sitting in separate groups at the start of the meeting. By the end, the groups had disappeared and everyone was mingled together, “which is a great thing,” she said.
“More and more I think it will become a blurred line,” said Doug Allen, chairman of the hospital board.
Read the full story at: http://www.wctrib.com/business/healthcare/4415016-launch-carris-health-goes-smoothly