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11/21/17 - Three Minnesota Health Care Organizations Agree to Form New Health Care Delivery System Called Carris Health

Rice Memorial Hospital, ACMC Health and CentraCare Health will collaborate through new subsidiary that will serve West Central and Southwest Minnesota.

After months of discussions, Rice Memorial Hospital, ACMC Health and CentraCare Health approved plans to move forward with the creation of Carris Health, which will serve as a health care hub serving West Central and Southwest Minnesota. At its board meeting on Nov. 20, the Willmar City Council voted to approve plans for city-owned Rice Memorial Hospital to join Carris Health. ACMC Health's board of directors also voted to proceed with the integration and the decision was finalized at a Nov. 20 shareholders meeting. Carris Health will be a subsidiary of CentraCare Health in St. Cloud.

Carris Health is a new entity that values collaboration between partner organizations to share expertise and resources to ultimately keep patient care local. The organizations intend to finalize the agreements in early 2018. Once finalized, the formation of Carris Health will begin and integration will continue over the next several months.

Under the agreement, Rice Memorial Hospital assets will continue to be owned by the City of Willmar and retain its name. Rice Memorial Hospital is a 100-bed hospital that includes inpatient beds, emergency department, surgery, therapy services, obstetrics, and ambulance services. The organization's 1,321 staff and physicians will become employees of Carris Health. In addition, the 174 employees of Willmar Medical Services, a joint venture between Rice Memorial Hospital and ACMC Health, also will become employees of Carris Health.

Carris Health will also make a capital investment of $32 million in Rice Memorial Hospital over the next 10 years. "We are very pleased to move forward with this new partnership and be a part of Carris Health," said Mike Schramm, CEO of Rice Memorial Hospital. "This agreement is a win-win for the people we care for as well as for our staff."

ACMC Health, through its separate agreement, also will become part of Carris Health. Operations at its 10 clinics and two ambulatory surgery centers will continue and the organization's 955 employees, including 180 physicians and advanced practice providers, will ultimately become employees of Carris Health. "This is an exciting opportunity for ACMC Health," said Cindy Firkins Smith, MD, president and CEO of ACMC Health. "To be part of Carris Health will provide opportunities to create innovative approaches to care for people in this region."

The goals of Carris Health are three-fold: 1) enhance the breadth and quality of services for patients, 2) improve the health of the population in the region, and 3) reduce the overall cost of care. Additionally, Carris Health brings stability to health care in the region and will allow each organization to better address the changing needs of populations and react to public policy changes that come from Washington, D.C. and St. Paul.

Initial discussions about forming a new partnership between CentraCare Health, Rice Memorial Hospital and ACMC Health began in May 2017 when the organizations signed a letter of intent to join forces. Since that time, leaders have been working to determine what the future of health care looks like for West Central and Southwest Minnesota. In addition to strategy meetings, several town hall meetings were held throughout the region to gather community input. "The formation of Carris Health brings together like-minded organizations that are passionate about caring for people and committed to the communities we serve," said Ken Holmen, MD, president and CEO of CentraCare Health. "We have an opportunity to improve the way health care is delivered by working together and we couldn't be more pleased."

To learn more about Carris Health, visit www.carrishealth.com.