Zeeland hospital explains stance on merger talks

September 13, 2010
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Editor,

There has been much public discussion recently about Zeeland Community Hospital’s decision to explore integration with Spectrum Health. Such public dialogue about a major step like this is to be expected and is welcomed. We would like to weigh in on a few key points that require clarification.

Health care is rapidly changing and with the passage of health care reform legislation, changes are sure to accelerate in the next decade. ZCH is financially strong. The actions we take are intended to ensure access to high quality care for our community and keep us strong and vibrant long-term.

Over the past several years, Holland Hospital proposed, and a group of community leaders endorsed, a merger of our two organizations. We agreed to consider this if it was done in a study that considered all other options available as well. As a board, we are stewards of this wonderful community asset and to not consider all options would have been irresponsible.

For the past year we have conducted a comprehensive study to determine the organizational structure that would provide the best opportunity for us to serve our patients and community into the future. We invited Holland Hospital, Trinity Health and Spectrum Health to be a part of that study. In addition, we studied the benefits of remaining independent and/or developing voluntary alliances. The end result of this exhaustive study was the decision to pursue integration with Spectrum Health.

The reason we chose to explore alignment with Spectrum Health was due to their comprehensive services, depth of expertise, experience and commitment to their system hospitals, and the opportunity to retain West Michigan culture and control. Spectrum Health is committed to strengthening ZCH as a community hospital and expanding access to medical services in our community, including the Hudsonville area where nearly one quarter of our patients reside. By contrast, Holland Hospital has given us no assurance that ZCH would be retained as an acute care hospital if we aligned with them and did not address how they would serve Hudsonville.

Spectrum Health has agreed to a governance structure that would consist of 10 local community board members and two Spectrum Health representatives. When asked about a governance structure, Holland Hospital indicated that “we are not prepared to propose the details of that process.”

Through the Spectrum Health Medical Group, physicians and staff in our Zeeland Physicians and Georgetown Physicians practices will receive the support they need to continue to grow and recruit additional providers to this area.

By becoming part of the Spectrum Health System, we expect to realize significant savings and receive operational support allowing us to continue to provide high quality, cost-effective medical services to our patients and community. By contrast, Holland Hospital chose not to address most of the questions raised in our formal request for information. Because of that, operational support and financial savings are unknown. 

ZCH and Spectrum Health have worked together for many years. We are a member of the Spectrum Health Regional Hospital Network and Helen DeVos Children's Hospital — Partners in Children's Health. We are keenly aware of Spectrum Health’s commitment to the mission of community hospitals. Spectrum Health believes that health care should be local whenever possible and provides its community hospitals with the support necessary to ensure high quality care. We also have observed the governance approach and autonomy at its community hospitals in Fremont, Greenville, Lakeview and Reed City. These hospitals have local boards and executives who respond to community needs. Each of these hospitals is thriving as part of Spectrum Health. This is a model that makes sense for ZCH, our community, patients and physicians.

Currently, we are engaged in a due diligence process with Spectrum Health that prevents us from entering into discussions with other health care organizations. It is important to note that we are not discussing an acquisition of ZCH by Spectrum Health; rather, we are discussing ZCH joining the Spectrum Health System. If, after the due diligence process is completed, we become a member of Spectrum Health, we will have access to expertise and resources that are unparalleled in West Michigan. At the same time, we will remain Zeeland Community Hospital, serving our community with the same passion and compassionate care our patients and families have come to expect.

“Caring people … caring for people” has been our mission for 82 years and will remain so for years to come. 

Board of Directors
Zeeland Community Hospital

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