On The Move

GHS and Laurens County Health Care System integrate in collaborative healthcare approach

Jun 27, 2013

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LAURENS, SC  - June 26, 2013 - After more than nine months of deliberation, Laurens County Health Care System (LCHCS) will integrate with Greenville Health System (GHS) as part of an innovative collaborative healthcare approach serving patients in the Laurens County area. Both hospital boards approved the measure June 21, and the integration will be effective on July 1. 

The newly re-named Greenville Health System Laurens County Memorial Hospital is part of GHS’ model-of-change approach to health care that stresses innovative patient-driven, cost-effective care. The Laurens County Medical Campus will function as a sixth campus of GHS. 

Laurens County Health Care System is integrating with GHS by becoming a part of a single integrated health system that will serve the needs of the residents of Greenville and Laurens Counties as well as other communities in the Upstate. LCHCS will lease its hospital facilities to GHS, which will begin operating the hospital on July 1. 

The changing face of healthcare and the extreme difficulties it has caused for some hospital systems prompted LCHCS’ decision to seek new ways to ensure that the healthcare needs of the Laurens County community will be met in the future. 

“As a community hospital, we have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure that we deliver health care in the most effective way for our patients in Laurens County,” said W. Michael Ellison, chairman of the Laurens County board of trustees. “We knew it made sense to become part of a larger health system to make better use of scarce dollars – and we wanted to work with someone that shared our vision, values of clinical quality, and, more important, had a long-standing connection to the community. Overwhelmingly, Greenville Health System was the top choice.” 

The integration solidifies the historic relationship between the two areas, said Jerett Tozzi, MD, a Laurens County board member and medical director of the hospital’s emergency services. Nearly 25% of Laurens County patients seeking hospital services already turn to GHS for some portion of their healthcare needs. That percentage is even higher in specialty areas like cardiology, neuro-surgery and pediatric intensive care, which usually aren’t available outside of major population centers.

Stroke patients are already benefitting from Laurens’ participation in the GHS’ NeuroDirect telemedicine stroke initiative which gives physicians in outlying areas near-immediate access to neurological expertise needed to save brain function in stroke situations. LCHCS launched its NeuroDirect link in June, but GHS practices like the Laurens Family Practice, which has offices in Laurens and Gray Court, date back almost 20 years. 

“This truly is the best of both worlds,” said Dr. Tozzi, an emergency medicine physician who says he’s seen firsthand the benefit of close ties with GHS.

“GHS has a long history of serving the Laurens County community, and this new structure will allow us to further strengthen that relationship,” said GHS President and CEO Mike Riordan. “As an integrated health system serving the Greenville and Laurens county markets, we will look at the needs of the community and develop a plan to meet those needs. As always, our focus will be on delivering quality care in a cost-effective, patient-centered environment.”

Health care is changing, including the expectation from consumers, businesses and insurers for increased quality at an affordable cost, said Riordan. 

 “Moving forward, we believe that health systems are going to have to deliver health care in a very different way in order to ensure that the right care is delivered at the right place at the right time,” said Riordan. “We believe the most successful health systems will develop multi-community integrated delivery systems that focus on keeping people healthier over their entire lives. The old episodic way of treating patients simply isn’t working anymore and too often results in fragmented or insufficient care.” 

GHS is already working closely with Palmetto Health and Baptist Easley through a partnership that has resulted in enhanced care efficiencies through clinical integration and bulk purchasing. 

“We’re all living in a more challenging healthcare climate now. It only makes sense to work together,” said Riordan.

A community needs assessment and medical staff development plan will be developed in the near future.

 “The financial element is certainly a key part of the decision, but so is the opportunity to make health care in our area stronger and more effective,” said Rich D’Alberto, the LCHCS CEO who has been instrumental in crafting the structure of the new agreement. D’Alberto will serve as the first campus president.

Under the integration agreement, Laurens County Health Care System will lease its facilities and transfer its operating assets under a 40-year long-term lease. Patients receiving services beginning July 1 will be patients of the GHS Laurens County Memorial Hospital. Physicians and allied health practitioners practicing at the LCHCS today will be granted privileges to practice at the new GHS Laurens County Memorial Hospital.

Laurens County Health Care System (LCHCS) is located on Highway 76 in Clinton, S.C. The organization opened in 1989 and is licensed for 90 beds (76 acute and 14 skilled nursing). It is fully accredited by The Joint Commission and retains more than 500 full-time and part-time employees and 60 volunteers, in addition to a quality medical staff of more than 48 physicians and 65 consulting physicians. Like GHS, LCHCS is committed to meeting the healthcare needs of the community and believes that the best results are delivered by a team working together toward a common purpose.

About GHS
Greenville Health System (GHS) is committed to medical excellence through patient care, research and education. GHS offers patients a comprehensive network of expertise and technologies through its current five medical campuses, tertiary medical center, research and education facilities, community hospitals, physician practices and numerous specialty services throughout upstate South Carolina. It also is home to one of the nation’s newest medical schools – University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. Among the largest healthcare networks in the Southeast, this not-for-profit system contains 1,268 beds, 14 medical residency and fellowship programs, and the state’s largest number of active clinical trials. Recent honors include being named one of the Top 100 Integrated Healthcare Networks, Top 50 Teaching Hospitals and 10 Best-led Hospitals.