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CMH turns to VCU for partnership

South Boston News / April 09, 2014
After six decades as a standalone, community hospital, Community Memorial Healthcenter in South Hill has agreed to affiliate with a larger partner — Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in Richmond.

VCU Health and CMH will join operations to expand the range and depth of healthcare delivery for residents of Southside Virginia and northern North Carolina, according to the announcement of the deal made by Community Memorial Healthcenter CEO Scott Burnette on Monday.

The agreement is expected to be completed by June 30, pending federal and state regulatory approvals, and an opinion on the arrangement by the Office of Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring.

Already staff members from VCU Health System and CMH are working on a detailed transition plan “in order to facilitate a smooth transition,” said Burnette, who declined to go into specific details about the financial arrangements of the affiliation agreement.

Under the deal, CMH will become a part of the VCU Health System and be renamed VCU Community Memorial Hospital. VCU Health System is committing a minimum of $75 million in new strategic investments in CMH, including a new hospital facility, healthcare technologies, clinical initiatives and physician recruitment, according to a statement issued on behalf of both health systems.

“The plan is to build a replacement main hospital, the site for which has not been officially decided.,” said Burnette. “The process for designing the new facility will begin immediately upon closing; however, a COPN [certificate of public need] must be obtained in order to proceed to construction.”

CMH currently owns about 30 acres of vacant land on U.S. 1 near the 1-85 interchange.

Burnette said the mutual goal behind the affiliation was “to make Community Memorial Hospital a medical destination by establishing specialty practices based on the needs of the community.” He declined to say whether those needs included maternity or psychiatric care, two services CMH has cut out recently.

CMH has no current plans to create additional employment under the affiliation deal, though Burnette did not rule future jobs, saying, “VCU Health System and CMH are engaged in a joint strategic planning effort which will involve a thorough assessment of the needs of the region in developing a path forward to enhanced medical services in southern Virginia.”

CMH already has under way efforts to recruit more general surgeons, cardiology, pulmonology, ENT and primary care for this region.

According to officials with both organizations, the affiliation brings together two high-performing organizations, combining the clinical expertise of the community-based hospital with the nationally ranked programs of the VCU Medical Center under the umbrella of the VCU Health System.

“By combining resources, the VCU Health System and CMH can do more to improve the health of the community than either could do independently,” said Michael Rao, president of VCU and the VCU Health System. “Working together as part of an academic medical center will ensure the residents of southern Virginia have access to our nationally recognized specialists. It also strengthens learning and research opportunities for our students and faculty.”

CMH, which has received numerous state and national recognitions for quality patient care and customer service, is licensed for 99 acute care and 161 long-term care beds and provides a wide array of in-patient and outpatient services. It is one of the area’s largest employers with approximately 800 employees and 200 volunteers. Eighty-five physicians representing 30 medical specialties have privileges at CMH.

With the affiliation, CMH employees join about 9,000 VCU Health System employees. There will continue to be a CMH board of directors, with both local and VCU Health System appointments. Burnette will retain his position as CEO of CMH.

Under the new structure, leaders from surrounding communities and CMH will continue to represent local interests on governance and strategic planning, and the CMH Foundation will continue to be a vital philanthropic arm of CMH, according to the hospitals’ join statement.

The VCU Health System already has a presence at CMH through a partnership with the VCU Massey Cancer Center that provides outpatient medical hematology-oncology and radiation oncology. In addition, the organizations have a rich history of collaboration in providing other clinical and educational services.

“Both organizations are deeply committed to improving the health of the communities they serve, and we recognized that joining forces with the VCU Health System enhances our ability to fulfill our mission. We are excited about the future of healthcare for this region,” said Burnette.

John Duval, CEO of MCV Hospitals, said that residents of Southside Virginia and northern North Carolina will have greater access to the full range of advanced healthcare services offered by the VCU Health System, including a broader range of medical specialists, clinical trials and state-of-the-art technology.

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 223 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers.

Community Memorial Healthcenter (CMH) provides comprehensive medical, surgical and long-term care services for the residents of Southern Virginia and Northern North Carolina. Since 1954, CMH’s employees, physicians, volunteers and board of directors have worked to fulfill the hospital’s mission of providing excellence in the delivery of healthcare.

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