- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - After soliciting partners from seven West Coast organizations, leaders at Salem Hospital plan to sign an agreement next month with Oregon Health & Science University to put their clinical and financial operations under one management.

Stand-alone hospitals such as Salem’s are looking to be part of bigger systems, Bob Wells, chairman of Salem Health, told the Statesman Journal (https://stjr.nl/1BUX7Ro ).

“You’re looking for partners to more efficiently deliver patient care at a reduced cost,” he said.

Salem Health said last year it had narrowed its search for a larger partner from seven organizations to OHSU, a Portland institution that includes the state’s medical education programs and a children’s hospital in addition to its general hospital.

The agreement calls for Salem Health and OHSU to retain separate boards, and their employees will be considered separate workforces. A management company will report to both boards.

The 40-year deal does not involve a transaction of finances or assets. Once joined, the hospitals will share financial risks and rewards at the end of each quarter.

OHSU is the larger operation by more than three times, with an annual operating budget of $2.2 billion versus $629 million for Salem Health, and 14,600 employees to Salem’s 4,200.

Wells said the Salem hospital’s existing partnership with OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute is an example of what the agreement would mean. The partnership allows more cancer patients to receive treatments in Salem.

OHSU could help Salem Health build capacity in specialty care, he said. Salem Health could also take patients with less complicated problems, allowing OHSU to focus on the most challenging cases.

“It’s early, but we feel that there probably are patients who are treated at OHSU who should be and can be treated in Salem,” said Peter Rapp, executive director of OHSU health care. “And with additional support, some of the services we have here and are not available in Salem, we could organize differently so they could be done in Salem.”

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Information from: Statesman Journal, https://www.statesmanjournal.com

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