Perry County Health Systems and Mercy took the next step in its partnership.
Perry County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, in an open session Thursday evening, authorized and approved the lease between the trustees and Mercy.
“This is an exciting time for Perry County to strengthen an already strong future of health care,” said Chris Wibbenmeyer, CEO of Perry County Health System. “The benefits of partnering with Mercy will improve the health care delivery system in Perry County and expand the options for the community.”
Some of the benefits include:
A new electronic medical record system through Epic, a state-of-the-art system offering appointment scheduling, access to results, contact with a patient’s provider, bill payment features and more through the MyMercy patient portal available online and through the MyMercy app. This is a $6.5 million investment Mercy will make to create one medical record for each patient anywhere they receive care from Mercy.
Access to Mercy Virtual support systems to increase patient care options at home and in the hospital.
Collaboration with Mayo Clinic, a first-of-its-kind alliance with Mercy, bringing together data and human experience to improve early diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
Purchasing scale that allows for lower supply and equipment costs but at the same high quality Perry County has today.
Strong physician and nurse recruitment to provide high quality, specialized care.
Wibbnemeyer said that with Mercy on board, it gives Perry County Health System and the hospital, the ability to grow.
“We aren’t looking at a restriction or a constriction of services,” Wibbenmeyer said. “The goal is sustainability and growth. It’s difficult with all of the financial pressures on us with the supply chain and labor markets to maintain that unless we have some way to scale in the size of our operation that will help us become more efficient.”
SoutheastHealth announced recently that it has signed a letter of intent with St. Louis-based Mercy to join the health system as a full member. The letter of intent culminated a search process involving the SoutheastHealth selection committee, Southeast Hospital board of directors and SoutheastHealth System board of directors. Wibbenmeyer believes that there are similarities between that process and the one that Perry County is going through”.
“The future of rural hospitals are difficult,” he said. “I don’t want the organization to get into a position where we are having to address the cost side of the equation, but instead the growth of what we could be so that we can keep up with the cost. I believe that we need size and scale. I think that’s something that you see Mr. Bateman at Southeast Health speak about as well. If SoutheastHealth needs scale and size, how can we think that we don’t? I give a lot of credit to our boards for being visionaries and putting the time and energy into the process because I feel that this step is a monumental step forward for this community.”
Wibbenmeyer understands that the process and project is a hot button issue with members of Perryville and Perry County, but assures that he only has the community in mind.
“Why would I advocate for something that would hurt our community?” Wibbenmeyer said. “This is where my parents, siblings, and other family lives if it were harmful to the community.”
Mercy should help PCMH in several areas, including growth which he mentioned before, but others as well.
“It’s costly to grow and I think that’s going to be where we want to take advantage of some of things,” Wibbenmeyer said. “Mercy has more buying power and better negotiating strength. Mercy’s motto is to provide low-cost, quality care that is close to home. They have 16 other critical access hospitals, which is almost unheard of, and never closed one of them. It’s not that we don’t have experience in that, but they have 16 and approximately 40 other hospitals, so they have the scale to do it in an efficient way.
Wibenmeyer and other board members are excited for what’s next.
“We are excited about this new opportunity for the community,” stated Greg Unger, Chairman of Perry County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees. “Mercy has been really good to work with and will be a great partner with our long-term future in mind. Perry County will benefit from this partnership for years to come.”
Integration between the two health systems is expected to take place this fall.