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Cleveland Clinic to become minority owner in Akron General

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The Cleveland Clinic will further expand its regional footprint through a new agreement announced today (Monday) with Summit County's Akron General Health System. The Clinic will become a minority owner and the smaller hospital becomes an exclusive partner of the Clinic. ideastream Health Reporter Sarah Jane Tribble explains ...

Monday, June 9, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Akron General first talked to the Cleveland Clinic about a partnership in 2007. That deal, as well as more recent talks, last year fell through.

But the conversation never stopped, says Akron General CEO Dr. Tim Stover.

"I always knew it was still in play. And so we started to talk to the Cleveland Clinic to keep Akron General a not for profit. It's taken this long to get to the right relationship," Stover says.

The Cleveland Clinic's Chief Strategy Officer Ann Huston says the deal is "a very natural move for us."

Under the new deal, the Clinic becomes a minority owner in Akron General. Board members will sit on each others boards. And the Clinic's name will go up on Akron General's buildings - giving the larger health system a strong strong presence in the growing county.

In addition, the Clinic is expected to spend money on the smaller health system.

"The Clinic is making a substantial investment in Akron General,"Stover says. "This is not a typical hub and spoke model where they are the hub and we send things up the spoke to Cleveland. This is truly an investment in Akron General to make it better. We'll be using these funds for improvement of our facilities and adding new services to people."

Akron General board members began planning for a partnership more than two years ago, Stover says. Federal health reform, he says, demands consolidation and partnerships.

The deal is expected to be complete in the next 60 days. If all goes well, Stover said there is a possibility the larger system's ownership could increase in the coming years. Huston said the Clinic expects a long-term relationship and that "would imagine it will grow and deepen over time."