Summa Health Searching Nationwide For Partner To Upgrade Services

Summa Health CEO Dr. Cliff Deveny at the Akron Roundtable
Summa Health CEO Dr. Cliff Deveny spoke Thursday at the Akron Roundtable [ML Schultze]

ML Schultze

Summa Health has approached nearly three dozen other health systems nationally to explore potential partnerships. And if a deal is reached, it could be effective by this time next year.

Summa’s CEO Dr. Cliff Deveny Thursday told the Akron Roundtable he expects to have initial proposals by the end of this year. He says a range of relationships including mergers or acqusition will be considered.

Summa includes Akron City, Barberton and St. Thomas hospitals. It wants to strengthen services including certain heart procedures and gastro-enterology for which many patients now go to Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

“To see people leaving the community to get services outside our community has been frustrating for a lot of folks,” Deveny said. “And so what we’re looking for is that organization that can help attract talent, attract services and then really maintain a commitment to the most vulnerable.”

Summa is cutting ties with its current minority partner, Mercy Health. Deveny says he’s looking for a different kind of partnership to upgrade services.

Deveny said he expects proposals to be submitted by the end of this year, and reviewed by the Summa board by next spring. It’s expected to take another six months for a proposal to be vetted and clear legal review.

Deveny noted that three Ohio hospitals have closed this year -- in Youngstown, Massillon and Dayton. And he said it’s increasingly difficult for any hospital system to stand alone, especially with planned cuts in hospital reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid.

“And so we’re going to have to do more with less because of our population,” Deveny said. “And again, with 50 percent of our people being on Medicare, its going to be tough. And that’s going to require to move more people to home to get their health care and optimizing operations.”

Summa faced a $60 million loss last year, but Deveny says the hospital system has turned its financial position around and is now looking for a partner to increase the services it offers.

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