Watertown, New York ----- Samaritan Medical Center (SMC) and North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC) are pleased to announce plans to explore potential transfer of several of SMC’s primary care clinics to NCFHC operations, including but not limited to clinics in Adams, Cape Vincent, Clayton, LeRay, Sackets Harbor and Watertown.
“Our community will benefit greatly from this type of collaboration, which will expand and enhance the scope and quality of services available in our communities,” explains Thomas H. Carman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Samaritan Medical Center. “This collaboration aligns perfectly with the efforts underway to improve the North Country’s healthcare system, as well as changes introduced by the Affordable Care Act.”
As a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC), North Country Family Health Center already functions successfully and efficiently as a model of care that is accessible, patient-centered and integrated, while reducing barriers to care and focusing on prevention. Additionally, NCFHC’s model provides grant dollar support to focus on integration and care coordination, as well as enhanced reimbursement rates and savings opportunities.
“As we evaluated Samaritan’s clinics along with our continued success at the North Country Family Health Center, it became clear that partnering together could be a triple win: a win for each of our organizations and, most importantly, a win for our entire community,” states Joey Marie Horton, Executive Director of the North Country Family Health Center. “The goal of our regional healthcare transformation is to turn our current system into one that is patient-centered and focuses on value as opposed to volume. We feel strongly that many necessary changes to our region’s healthcare system can be addressed through this collaboration.”
The SMC Board of Trustees and the NCFHC Board of Directors authorized their respective organizations to proceed with an exploratory and planning phase in order to determine what the final agreement would entail. A joint committee comprised of equal representation from the leadership teams of each organization will oversee the exploratory and planning process.
“There is extensive work to be done over the next few months to outline the details of the agreement,” concludes Mr. Carman. “In addition to the due diligence process, we also will seek input from our patients, staff and others to ensure that the final agreement makes sense for them and for each of our organizations. There is great potential through this collaboration to strengthen primary care in our region so that our community members have greater access to coordinated, efficient, appropriate and high quality healthcare.”
Another advantage offered through this agreement is enhanced financial stability for both North Country Family Health Center and Samaritan Medical Center, which leads to a strong and stable healthcare system. Because NCFHC is a Federally Qualified Health Center, it receives enhanced reimbursement for services rendered and realizes significant savings in pharmaceutical pricing and malpractice costs. The addition of these primary care clinics to NCFHC will generate significant revenue to expand and enhance the services it provides, further strengthening its operations. Annually, Samaritan’s clinics generate a significant loss, which the hospital allows for in its budget because of the important benefit the clinics provide to the communities they serve. This transfer would enable Samaritan to shed its loss each year, while enhancing North Country Family Health Center’s annual revenue.
The exploratory and planning phase is expected to take approximately six months to complete, with the goal of presenting a final collaborative agreement in early 2016.