By David Denson, Gay Crusader
Talks are underway between representatives of Methodist Hospitals and the Franciscan Alliance regarding a proposed merger.
According to Methodist President and CEO Ray Grady Methodist and Franciscan are in the midst of a 120-day exclusive negotiating period that may last the rest of the year.
Grady discussed the merger with members of the Gary Chamber of Commerce Monday, July 10 at the organization’s monthly business luncheon.
A merger between the two entities would create the largest hospital system in Northwest Indiana. If everything goes as planned Franciscan is proposing to build a $300 million hospital along the 80/94 corridor in Gary.
In addition to building a new hospital, Franciscan is proposing to fund the $75 million to $100 million expansion of Methodist’s Southlake campus, and construct a medical office building next to the new Gary Hospital.
‘This would be the largest investment the city has seen in the last 38-years and will have an impact on drawing business to the community,” said Grady.
The cost of health care continues to rise and according to Grady it was becoming difficult for Methodist to provide the services alone. “We’re not trying to leave. We are trying to ensure that the quality of health care in Gary exists in perpetuity. In honoring our commitment to Gary, we believe that no patient should be left behind. When it comes to access to care however, I will tell you if we maintain the status quo, the economics of health are going with us,” said Grady.
The partnership will allow Methodist to expand the number of specialty physicians, along with a broader focus on outpatient care and value based care.
According to Grady, the merger will not affect employees at Methodist. “Everybody that has a job today will have a job when this agreement is reached. All benefits will stay the same and in the letter of intent the benefits that employees previously had will be carried over to the new organization,”
Parts of the discussions regarding the planned merger have revolved around a federal consent decree regarding Methodist. The order was the result of a lawsuit that mandated that Methodist provide the same quality of care at both the Northlake and Southlake campuses. “We don’t know if the consent decree can address the concerns of quality of health care. I think that the Office of Civil Rights understands the constraints we are under, but we have figured out a way to honor all the things we have to honor,” said Grady.
Talks between representatives of Methodist and the consent decree plaintiffs have been aimed at modifying parts of the decree. “Everyone involved in these talks agree with the business plan, but they want to make sure that the spirit of the consent decree is honored,” noted Grady.
Should we attempt to manage the future or will we manage the status quo. In forging we are attempting to manage the future,” said Grady.