The Ottawa North Community Health System is merging with Trinity Health on October 1

GRAND HAVEN — Ottawa North Community Health System will be part of Trinity Health Michigan on October 1 when the two healthcare systems close their planned merger.

Leaders announced today that they have signed a final agreement to merge North Ottawa with Trinity Health, ending more than a century of independence for Grand Haven’s small health care system. Once the agreement is reached, the Ottawa North Community Health System will become known as Trinity Health Grand Haven and will maintain all existing operations.

The merger includes all Ottawa North operations, including the 81-bed hospital in Grand Haven, the Heartwood Lodge nursing home in Spring Lake and palliative care services.

Through amalgamation, Ottawa’s North aligns with a major healthcare system at a time when costs are rising rapidly, finances are tight, and recruiting and retaining talent is an increasingly difficult proposition for small hospitals.

“The Founders put us here 103 years ago to care for this community and we take that responsibility very seriously. In today’s era of constant regulatory change and staffing and reimbursement challenges, the best way for us to continue to deliver on this mission is to have a very strong partner – and Trinity is that partner,” said said Shelleye Yaklin, president and CEO of Ottawa North, said in an interview. Yaklin will remain president of Trinity Health Grand Haven.

“It allows us to continue to care for the people we are honestly honored to care for,” Yaklin said.

Establishment in western Michigan

Trinity Health, based in Livonia, is in turn establishing itself more firmly in the growing health care market of northern Ottawa County, adjacent to its Muskegon market, and offers ample opportunity to leverage the operations of both .

North Ottawa will become the ninth hospital in Michigan for Trinity Health, whose portfolio also includes Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids. The Catholic health care system has 92 hospitals in 22 states with more than 120,000 employees, 5,300 physicians, and $4.1 billion in annual operating revenue.

In Michigan, Trinity has 24,000 employees, 2,233 inpatient beds, and 5,290 physicians and advanced practice providers.

North Ottawa and Trinity have sought for years to forge deeper ties in the waterfront market. They formed a strategic alliance in 2016 and Trinity Health acquired the North Ottawa physician group two years later.

“This is a very natural next step in the evolution of a great relationship between North Ottawa and Trinity,” said Trinity Health Michigan CEO Rob Casalou. MiBiz. “It now strengthens access (to care) at the lake and in the community of Grand Haven and in Ottawa County. Now you have two organizations that can really start working together to serve this whole part of the community. »

Cost savings

Following the closing of the deal in two weeks, Trinity Health will immediately review where it can leverage administrative operations to generate cost savings in areas such as human resources, information technology services and finance.

Using Trinity’s purchasing power alone will generate significant savings for Ottawa’s north end, Casalou said.

“Right off the bat, when North Ottawa joins Trinity, they get immediate access to all of our system services. The value of economies of scale is huge for smaller hospitals like North Ottawa that have had to buy everything separately, whether it’s IT supplies or services or access to capital, all those kinds of issues now. You significantly reduce the cost to the Ottawa North system by being part of Trinity,” he said.

Clinically, Grand Haven will be part of joint ventures that Trinity Health Michigan has with the University of Michigan Health-West for cancer care and cardiac care networks, he said.

“The ability to bring these kinds of expanded services and sub-specialty services to the lakefront in a stronger way is something that’s important to all of us here,” Yaklin said.

Additionally, Trinity Health can utilize Ottawa North’s surgical capacity for low-acuity procedures now being performed in Muskegon where volumes are high and “we’re really short on surgical capacity resources,” Casalou said. Some orthopedic surgeons in Muskegon are already using Ottawa’s north for procedures, he said.

The merger also allows the two to better coordinate patient referrals between Grand Haven and Muskegon and review joint medical services, “as opposed to this arm’s length referral relationship,” Casalou said.

Another possibility of the merger is to found an acute long-term care unit in Grand Haven, Casalou said. A 31-bed acute long-term care unit in Muskegon operated by Select Specialty Hospital closed two years ago when hospital care on the Hackley campus was consolidated to the Mercy Hospital campus on the Sherman Blvd.

Ottawa North signed a non-binding letter of intent with Trinity Health in March to “discuss the feasibility” of a merger.

In June, state lawmakers passed legislation to permit the merger and allow North Ottawa’s to transfer to a new owner without a public second.

In 1996, more than two-thirds of local voters approved the transfer of Ottawa North from a public authority to a private, not-for-profit corporation. The change in state law eliminated the requirement for another public vote for a subsequent transfer of ownership.

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