By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
Iowa City — A new partnership aims to strengthen and preserve Catholic healthcare in the Iowa City region. Mercy Iowa City announced May 1 that it has entered into a Strategic Affiliation Agreement with Mercy Health Network, a unified Catholic health network that now includes 42 hospitals and 207 medical clinics in communities throughout Iowa. The affiliation is effective June 1.
Five months ago, Mercy Iowa City had announced tentative plans to partner with UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids, a partnership that did not come to fruition due to healthcare industry challenges. Both health care entities appreciated the collaborative working relationship they shared during the due diligence phase, according to a news release.
“By joining Mercy Health Network, Mercy Iowa City will be able to maintain the high-quality and compassionate care for which it is recognized, while benefiting from the many advantages affiliation will bring,” said Mark Phillips, chair of the Mercy Iowa City Board of Directors.
“We are excited to have Mercy Iowa City, which is nationally recognized for outstanding and excellent patient care, become a Strategic Affiliate of the Mercy Health Network,” said Dave Vellinga, president and CEO of Mercy Health Network. “Mercy Iowa City has a long tradition of excellent healthcare.” Mercy Iowa City most recently received an award for outstanding patient experience and was named a 100 Top Hospital in America for patient care in 2016 by Truven Health Analytics.
“Mercy Health Network and Mercy Iowa City each share missions focused on improving and transforming health care in our respective communities,” said Janell Pitmann, Mercy Health Network’s vice president for marketing and communications. “The ties between our organizations are very deep starting with our founding by the Sisters of Mercy and our legacies of compassionate care and service to the poor. Both organizations also share commitments to do our work with excellence, respect for the dignity of the people and families we serve, integrity and stewardship.” Pittman added that “both ministries have been interested in coming together for a long time.”
Affiliation will allow Mercy Iowa City to retain its name and local control, and help Mercy Iowa City respond to the challenges and uncertainties of the healthcare industry, administrators said.
The affiliation will also strengthen Mercy Iowa City’s financial performance by providing access to critical benefits such as payer contracting, group purchasing and economies of scale, access to systems that already exist within the network, strategic growth opportunities, as well as access to the Mercy ACO, the largest and most successful Accountable Care Organization in Iowa, and the two largest Catholic health systems in the country.
“After a lengthy process, we are pleased about this affiliation agreement between Mercy Iowa City and Mercy Health Network and we know that it will be beneficial for both parties,” said Sister Laura Reicks, RSM, president of the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community. “This relationship will ensure that southeast Iowa will continue to be served by a Catholic healthcare system and continue the mission and values of the Sisters of Mercy.” The Sisters of Mercy West Midwest are stepping away from sponsoring the hospital because of Mercy Iowa City’s need to affiliate for economies of scale.
Bishop Martin Amos, apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Davenport, expressed support for the new affiliation. “Our main interest is to keep a hospital that follows the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services and that maintains a Catholic presence in the community.”
Mercy Iowa City is an acute care hospital and regional referral center that draws patients from throughout southeast Iowa. Mercy has 234 acute care beds, 25 private rooms for outpatient surgery, 26 bed nursery with a Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, 27 primary and specialty care clinics, a medical staff of 250 physicians representing all major medical specialties and most sub-specialties and 1,440 employees. It was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1873 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy Chicago for many years. In 2008, they became part of the Sisters of the West Midwest Community. To learn more visit www.mercyiowacity.org.
Mercy Health Network (MHN) is an integrated system of hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities dedicated to delivering outstanding health care services and improving the health of people throughout Iowa and contiguous areas. MHN and its two owner-members own and operate eight medical centers and other services in six major markets in Iowa – Clinton, Des Moines, Dubuque, Mason City, Sioux City and Waterloo/Cedar Falls – and community hospitals in seven other locations. In addition, MHN has 26 affiliated organizations that participate through contracts for management and other services, and one joint-ventured surgical hospital in South Dakota.
The Mercy ACO (Accountable Care Organization) has been recognized at one of the most successful ACOs in the nation. Using health coaches and other innovative techniques to help people better manage chronic diseases and improve their overall health, the Mercy ACO has helped reduce hospital admissions, Emergency Department visits and other expensive types of care. Medicare and other health insurers report they have saved more than $40 million in health care costs in the past four years as a result of the Mercy ACO’s efforts. To learn more, go to www.mercyhealthnetwork.com.