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Merging hospitals increase services

April 12, 2011
By Ashley Hill ( , The Marietta Times

The merger of Marietta Memorial and Selby General hospitals in 2008 and the recent merger of Camden-Clark and St. Joseph's hospitals are just two examples of what's becoming a popular trend in the health care industry.

Representatives with both health systems say there are many benefits to bringing multiple hospitals under one umbrella.

Jennifer Offenberger, director of marketing and public relations for the Memorial Health System, said the joint replacement services offered at Selby are just one such example.

Selby has been named in the top 10 in the state of Ohio for joint replacement services and is in the top 15 in the country.

"We were able to take a look at the structure of Selby and how it can best suit the needs of patients and care delivery," she said. "The access our patients have there in terms of if you have a joint that's can go to one level to access your services."

She said Selby is a critical access hospital, meaning patients who have had joint replacement surgery can stay in the same room for their care after surgery and for therapy.

Fact Box

About local health care mergers:

On March 1, Camden-Clark Memorial and St. Joseph's Hospitals in Parkersburg joined together to form the Camden-Clark Medical Center. The center is affiliated with the West Virginia United Health System.

In 2008, Marietta Memorial and Selby General hospitals in Marietta joined together to form the Memorial Health System.

"(Previously), a joint replacement patient would have surgery then would be transferred to another facility for therapy," Offenberger said.

She said as part of the expansion of the joint replacement services, a care navigator has been incorporated. This is a registered nurse who meets with patients prior to joint replacement surgery and educates them about what to expect and what to do when they get home, she said.

"The patients are extremely happy...and their recovery can be much faster," Offenberger said.

She said because the hospitals work together, they can leverage negotiations, contracts and technology.

"You're not overlapping efforts, so those dollars you're spending are more effective and they may stretch further," she said.

Operating under the slogan of "Stronger and Healthier," the Camden-Clark Medical Center, consisting of Camden-Clark and St. Joseph's hospitals, will also greatly benefit the community, according to marketing director Greg Smith.

"First of'll have many of the physicians, nurses and other residents our patients have relied on for years," he said. "It'll have a profound impact on the area, just like the medical centers in Charleston and Clarksburg have had."

Smith said it's a "definite possibility" that in the future, a neonatal intensive care unit may be established as a result of the merger.

"In order to have a neonatal intensive care unit, you need to have 2,000 minimal births (and) by combining the births of both facilities, we may reach that and exceed that," he said. "Instead of sending out the premature births...we are now studying the establishment of a neonatal care unit as part of the intensive care unit."

According to Smith, the open heart program may be expanded and ways of improving cancer care are also being considered.



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