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New Premier Affiliation Echoes Industry-Wide Trend

An affiliation with Premier Health will help expand the reach of Darke County's Wayne HealthCare.

From the December 19, 2016 edition of The Dayton Business Journal

By Tristan Navera, Senior Reporter

An affiliation with Premier Health will help expand the reach of Darke County's Wayne HealthCare.

Wayne HealthCare and Premier Health announced Friday an intention to affiliate, with the final decision on the seven-year agreement expected in March. Premier would invest in Wayne's facilities while still "maintaining independent local control" for the Greenville hospital.

Premier President Mary Boosalis and Wayne President and CEO Wayne Deschambeau will begin to explore closer working relationships from purchasing to hiring, training and technology.

The agreement entails board participation with both companies. Premier will represent a third of the Wayne board while Wayne will have two non-voting seats on Premier's. At the end of the seven-year agreement Wayne HealthCare could join Premier as a full member, Boosalis said.

"We're not talking about a merger, it's not the same relationship — I would love to see that some day — but to help see things (more integrated)," Boosalis said.

The partnership will bring resources to Wayne HealthCare, a 92-bed hospital that has 475 employees and about $54.8 million in revenue, focused mostly in Darke County. Premier Health has 13,500 employees and $1.8 billion in revenue across its hospitals and dozens of other facilities.

Hospitals in Ohio have increasingly affiliated in groups. Locally, the three largest are Dayton-based Premier Health, Miami Township-based Kettering Health Network and Springfield-based Community Mercy Health Partners. These groups have also built larger outpatient and specialist physicians networks and acquired independent practices.

More hospital affiliations have been predicted in Ohio, mainly based on finances. Last year an analyst warned that roughly half the hospitals in rural regions aren't financially stable. That sentiment was shared by the Ohio Hospital Association, which last year counted 70 rural hospitals among its 220 members — of which 22 small, rural ones had operating margins at or below 1 percent, predicting more affiliations were needed for them.

Wayne HealthCare has a stronger financial position, Boosalis said. The two groups have been working together since a cancer-focused joint venture that they began to develop in 2007. A joint-venture facility sits across the street from Wayne's hospital in Greenville......

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