SCKMC Enters Into Merger Agreement with Winfield Medical Arts
“This is a monumental achievement for (SCKMC). We think we have put a process together that will move the hospital forward. One thing that we have tried to do as we stabilize the hospital financially is that we find things to give the maximum reimbursement without any increase in workload. If we get this approved today, we will have accomplished that,” said Virgil Watson, SCKMC CEO.
September 12, 2017
The South Central Kansas Medical Center Board of Trustees voted today in favor of adopting a resolution to enter into a merger agreement with Winfield Medical Arts.
Carol Hearne, SCKMC’s Board of Trustees Chairperson, began the meeting by reading a prepared statement.
“While we recognize there is risk with any merger, we are painfully aware of the result of remaining stagnant in an ever changing medical climate. SCKMC's leadership has placed a great amount of effort in looking for new and creative ways to offset the expenses required to be able to continue to provide full service hospital care. This is the next step in that continuous process, and one in which we believe will provide great benefit to not only both entities involved, but all those seeking healthcare within the region,” Hearne said.
Prior to the unanimous approval of the resolution by the hospital Board, Virgil Watson, SCKMC’s Chief Executive Officer, addressed those in attendance.
“This is a monumental achievement for (SCKMC). We think we have put a process together that will move the hospital forward. One thing that we have tried to do as we stabilize the hospital financially is that we find things to give the maximum reimbursement without any increase in workload. If we get this approved today, we will have accomplished that,” Watson said.
Watson clarified that it will be business as usual for the patients and staff of Winfield Medical Arts going forward.
“The Winfield Medical Arts name will survive through the test of time, their legacy will continue. We are not changing the signage outside, we acquired all the rights to use the Winfield Medical Arts name under our management going forward. The only thing that will change is the employees will get their checks from SCKMC instead of WMA,” Watson said.
One other change will be the Medicare re-designation of Winfield Medical Arts from a standalone rural health clinic to a hospital based rural health clinic.
“Medicare has really made a push for the hospital to be the hub of the medical community. Part of the advantage of a rural health clinic is they have better reimbursement when attached to a hospital. Of course, that is the driving force behind the decision. There is better reimbursement when they take care of the patients that they are already taking care of. That really is the game changer,” explained Holly Harper, SCKMC’s Chief Financial Officer.
Both Harper and Watson anticipate WMA’s hospital based rural health clinic status will allow the clinic to continue to be financially self-supporting following the merger.
“We are moving into an already established rural health clinic and bringing that on as a hospital department. Will there be hurdles, of course. When you switch information with payers such as Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross, whoever, it takes time. It is expected that there will be a little bit of a dip over the first three months, but other than that it should be running as smoothly as it did before,” Harper said.
The decision to merge has been discussed for several years between both the clinic and hospital leadership. The two facilities regularly work together to assist with various needs.
“It just made sense for us to build a closer relationship and make it where Winfield Medical Arts became a hospital based rural health clinic being owned and operated by SCKMC. Dr. John Winblad left Winfield Medical Arts and we were given the challenge of providing a physician that could replace him. At the same time, we needed management at South Central Kansas Clinic that understood rural health clinic concepts and management protocol. We helped them get a physician by sharing Dr. Willie Posey, and they have helped us manage (South Central Kansas Clinic) to where it is functioning much more efficiently. They helped us get it designated as a hospital based rural health clinic, and helped us manage our cashflow and workflow at that clinic. We just wanted to grow and develop that relationship to the point where we were working totally together and not have this arms-length relationship.,” Watson said.
The transition is scheduled to take place on October 1st with Dr. Kent Winblad, Dr. Chandy Samuel, Dr. Anand Kaul, and nurse practitioner Jane Kaufman partnering with SCKMC as independent contractors through a provider group to continue to offer patient services through Winfield Medical Arts. Dr. Winblad will be the Chief Medical Officer for the provider group as well as the Medical Director for the rural health clinic. SCKMC will lease the WMA office through the building’s owner.
Each of the Winfield Medical Art providers were in attendance for the meeting, showing their support for the merger.
“I think it’s great. Number one it will help us to continue the Winfield Medical Arts legacy. Number two it’s an incredible deal, not just for us but for Ark City having acquired our experienced employees and the good relationships that we have with each other,” Dr. Kent Winblad said.
Pictured: Members of the SCKMC Board of Trustees gather with Winfield Medical Arts providers following the Board’s unanimous decision to enter into a merger agreement for the two entities. Virgil Watson, SCKMC CEO and Dr. Kent Winblad sign documents as overseen by Board attorney Otis Morrow.