Hudson’s Columbia Memorial Hospital and Albany Medical Center are announcing plans today to form a long-term “strategic affiliation” or “alliance,” with the goal of “better coordination of care for residents of Columbia and Greene counties and greater operational efficiency for both organizations.”
A draft agreement, still in negotiation, is said to stipulate that some members of CMH’s board would serve on Albany Med’s board, and vice-versa. But hospital officials stress that the two institutions will remain distinct, saying that “there will be no acquisition or merger.” On its Facebook page, Columbia Memorial is even more adamant about that point:
This is NOT a merger. It is NOT a consolidation. It is NOT a sale, and it is NOT an acquisition or a takeover. We are working to align our respective organizations to take advantage of one another’s strengths.
Potential benefits of the new partnership for Columbia County patients could include providing easier and more immediate access to Albany Med doctors and resources. Columbia Memorial might also seek to tap into higher Medicare reimbursements obtained by a larger partner located in a metro region. (CMH has 192 beds, whereas Albany has 734.)
Seeking to reassure the public that CMH and Albany Med will remain indepedent, the hospitals state that they will maintain their own corporate identities, boards of trustees, fundraising efforts, management structures, executives, directors, supervisors, medical staff, staff leadership, bylaws, employees and employment policies, while each “determin[ing] their own salary and benefit structure.”
The plan, which apparently has been very quietly in the works for roughly a year, has not been officially adopted and would require State approval. A “mutual due diligence” process is expected to take several months before a formalizing any agreement.
The discussion of an alliance was not driven by financial strains, the hospitals say, noting that “Columbia Memorial is presently operating at a net positive margin.”
Rather, they note that “reforms associated with the Affordable Care Act” have pushed “dozens of provider organizations in New York State [to become] affiliated in the last few years alone... [V]irtually every other provider of every size and type is exploring potential linkages and affiliations with other providers due to these system-wide dynamics.”