Mercy Reaffirms Commitment to Patients First Discussions -- Committed to bring local medical community together

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Washington, Mo. – Mercy has reaffirmed its commitment to the community to continue efforts to work with Patients First Health Care in bringing the local medical community together, according to Terri L. McLain, president of Mercy Hospital Washington.

The news comes following an announcement by Patients First of agreements they have signed with SSM Health Care St. Louis to explore the possibility of integration.

“We met several times with leaders of the Patients First board in what we believed to be very productive discussions about our work together. We were all hopeful that Mercy and Patients First would be able to find new ground for collaboration,” said McLain. “We are very disappointed, as we expect others in the community will be, to learn that Patients First is now working with a health care organization outside of our community.”

Mercy mailed letters Monday to all Patients First physicians inviting them to continue to dialogue with Mercy. “We still stand ready to collaborate. We are completely open to discuss any option with Patients First physicians,” said Tom Riechers, M.D., Mercy Hospital vice president of medical affairs.

Mercy also has invited all physicians in the Washington area to a physician roundtable discussion on Tuesday night. “This is an event we have discussed and planned for several weeks, for the purpose of providing a way for local physicians to discuss issues of common interest and improve how we work together to serve our communities,” said Dr. Riechers.

In the letter to Patients First physicians, Mercy reiterated its long history of partnering with physicians. The letter stated, “In communities across four states, we have demonstrated success in working collaboratively with physicians to improve care processes and clinical outcomes, while also managing costs. Our integrated health care networks in both the Springfield and St. Louis areas have long been recognized as national leaders in care delivery (currently No. 3 and No. 6 respectively), as measured by SDI and reported by Modern Healthcare magazine. Mercy’s 500-physician Springfield clinic has been nationally recognized by CMS for five years of successful participation in Medicare’s first Pay-for-Performance Demonstration Project, saving $17.6 million in the cost of caring for 30,000 patients with chronic illnesses. In addition to a proven record of clinical and operational success, our strong physician satisfaction scores further attest to our care delivery model. Any member of the nearly 500 physicians who are part of Mercy Clinic in east Missouri can speak to the benefit of being at the table with their colleagues as we plan and execute a strategy that makes for better patient care and better professional purpose.”

Mercy’s commitment to the Washington area has not and will not waver, McLain added.  The $236-million community master plan, announced at a community roundtable event in July, is moving forward. “Mercy marks 35 years of service to the Washington area this year, and we are fully committed to our future here,” she stated.

Mercy places a high importance on responding to community requests that Mercy and Patients First work together for the good of the community. McLain said, “Our community members have encouraged both Mercy and Patients First to find common ground. Both organizations have longstanding roots in our communities. We are friends, colleagues and neighbors; our families attend the same churches and schools; and we are all committed to keeping our communities strong and healthy.”

She added, “We believe that a partnership between Mercy and Patients First, with our strong community history and ties, is the best option for health care and patients in this region. The introduction of another health care entity – especially one without strong community history and ties – will only serve to fracture our community and our relationship as local caregivers. For that reason, we regret learning that Patients First is in discussions with SSM – but Mercy will not stop our efforts to bring the medical community together for the sake of those we serve.”