Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Medical Center moving forward with partnership


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The CEOs of both Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare (FSLH) and St. Elizabeth Medical Center (SEMC) announced Thursday morning at the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce Small Business Roundtable discussion that both of their boards have voted unanimously to go ahead with an affiliation agreement.

Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pam Matt says the announcement is good news for those in the Mohawk Valley.

"I think this is going to be wonderful," she said. "I think the efficiencies that come out of it, the quality of care that comes out of it, are all positives.  So the Chamber of Commerce has given a letter of support for this affiliation, so we're backing it."

The proposed parent organization of both hospitals would be called Mohawk Valley Health System.

It will have its own board made up of the board members of each hospital.

Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare CEO Scott Perra says the partnership still has to be approved by a number of entities, including the State Department of Health, The State Attorney General's Office, and the U.S. Justice Department.

Perra believes the affiliation agreement will get all of the necessary approvals and when it does, he says it will mean good things for the entire region, "Much higher quality for the community from a clinical perspective and a more efficient clinical delivery model versus us going out and buying a CAT scanner, they (SEMC) another CAT scanner, we buy something, they buy something.  It"s an awful lot of duplication.  So when we come together we will better manage that effectively as a system."

St. Elizabeth Medical Center Executive President and CEO Richard Ketcham says the reason for the affiliation is to better serve the community, not to make money.

"We're community, not for profit hospitals," he said. "The only reason that we want to have a modest surplus is so that we can reinvest in services and buildings.  There are no stock holders, the board members are all volunteers. This is about providing healthcare for this community."

When asked about potential job loss due to streamlining similar services, Ketcham says the two organizations have been what he calls "right-sizing" staff for the past couple of years, and at this time he says no further job cuts are planned, if and when the affiliation process is finalized.

Ketcham also explained on Thursday why this is an affiliation and not a merger.

"If both hospitals were secular, we'd do a total merger," he said. "But if we did a total merger, both hospitals would have to  be Catholic or neither hospital would have to be Catholic, and neither one of those we felt were appropriate for this community."

Perra says the approval process could take between three and six months, so an affiliation could be in place as early as next spring.

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