Zeeland Spectrum link Jan 1

December 12, 2010
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Spectrum Health will add Zeeland Community Hospital to its roster of hospitals Jan. 1, following the recent announcement that governing boards of the two nonprofit organizations have approved the merger.

“Our board came to this decision after an intensive and thorough analysis of several options,” said Zeeland Community President Henry Veenstra. “Integration with Spectrum Health will ensure care for the Zeeland, Hudsonville and surrounding communities today and far into the future.”

Spectrum Health Hospitals President Matt Van Vranken said a committee will be formed to prioritize the integration steps that are expected to last 12 to 24 months. One of the first to receive attention is likely to be electronic medical records, he said.

“One example of what they are struggling with — and we are going to help them solve — is a medical record (computer system) that has been really sunsetted and is not going to continue to be an option for them,” Van Vranken said. “That’s an example of the kind of thing that is going to benefit both of us.”

The 57-bed Zeeland hospital has worked closely with Spectrum Health and its predecessors for decades, he added.

The 19 doctors now employed by ZCH are likely to join the Spectrum Health Medical Group at some yet undetermined point, he said.

Zeeland Community Hospital employs 566 people.

“The other thing we’re going to do is look to make sure we are going to continue to create opportunities to add services to Zeeland,” Van Vranken said.

After a time of on-again, off-again talks with Holland Hospital, ZCH last year undertook a process to study its options as health care undergoes some dramatic changes. That was followed by a request for proposals process, and the ZCH board decided to work with Spectrum.

A group of local community and business leaders tried unsuccessfully to sway ZCH toward an affiliation with the 209-bed Holland Hospital.

“It is unfortunate that Spectrum Health and Zeeland Community Hospital have decided to move forward with their merger without first responding to the community’s request for specific details,” Holland Hospital President and CEO Dale Sowders said in a written statement when the Zeeland-Spectrum merger was announced. “I believe they have left the community wondering what to expect.

“We firmly believe that the best patient care is delivered by locally managed hospitals and health systems. Hospitals and physicians who know their communities are in the best position to address the community's health needs.”

Grand Rapids-based health care consultant Michael LaPenna was among those to whom ZCH turned for advice.

“Zeeland, unlike most hospitals, when through a very precise selection process and self-introspection and RFP process,” LaPenna said. “I think they have made a definitive choice, and it’s probably causing some angst in the community out there.”

Representatives of the community group, Holland Hospital and Veenstra did not respond to requests for comment last week.

According to Internal Revenue Service records for the tax year ending Sept. 30, 2008 — the latest filing available online — ZCH reported total revenue of $44.9 million and a deficit of $1.2 million.

In its audited financial statement for the fiscal year 2010, which ended June 30, Spectrum Health reported total operating revenue of $3.1 billion, which does not include investment activities. The total system margin was $40.2 million or 1.3 percent.

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