(WKTV) - Faxton-St. Lukes Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica on Tuesday took the last step in their multi-year journey toward an affiliation agreement: They filed notification with the Federal Trade Commission. The two have already received final approval from the New York State Department of Health.
The CEOs of both hospitals had a news conference on Tuesday, answering media questions about the pending 22-page agreement. Among the challenges, they said, was joining a secular hospital with a Catholic one - a move that required Faxton-St. Lukes Healthcare to agree to some conditions regarding female reproductive health.
"One is that we would not participate in physician-assisted suicides, should that ever become legal in NYS, and I need to emphasize that that's not currently legal -- and the second thing is that we wouldn't participating in something that I refer to as direct abortions, where we have a healthy mother and healthy baby but we just want to have that pregnancy terminated for whatever reason," said Faxton-St. Lukes CEO and President Scott Perra.
Perra will be in charge of the new parent organization of the two entitities, which will be known as Mohawk Valley Health System. Because the move is an affiliation agreement, not a merger, that means both hospitals, corporations and licenses will remain intact. A merger would have required both hospitals to be either secular or Catholic. The CEOs say that an affiliation agreement will still allow the two to share and streamline services and become more efficient both on paper and in the exam room.
"The more you do the better you get and there's no doubt that there's a direct correlation in many many procedures between volume and outcomes both in quality and also from cost," says Ketcham.
As far as job loss due to duplication, hospital officials hope that most will be from the 10-12 percent voluntary turnover that occurs each year when a combined 500-600 people leave their jobs at both hospitals for various reasons. The CEOs say that they're even optimistic there could be job growth. But that it would likely not be in the hospital setting.
"What's happening is things are more and more to outpatient care so job growth is potentially in home healthcare or as we call them health coaches, helping people stay well, stay out of the hospital...so there's different jobs, not necessarily the same and not necessarily within the four walls of the hospital so I think there are opportunities," says Richard Ketcham, president and CEO of St. Elizabeth's Medical Center.
The 22-page agreement is expected to become official by spring.
Also after the first of the year, discussions between hospital administrators and physicians regarding any change in the delivery of healthcare and medical services. That could involve new construction down the road. Administrators also plan to commence talks about a new logo under the "Mohawk Valley Health System" parent organization name, and moving forward under that brand.