Health systems pursue ‘partnership’


Kalamazoo-based Bronson Methodist Hospital is part of the Bronson Healthcare system. Photo via

A pair of health systems in the region are pursuing a strategic “partnership” that would strengthen services in their communities.

The board of trustees for South Haven Health System, or SHHS, said last month that the system will pursue a partnership with the Bronson Healthcare system of Kalamazoo.

SHHS said in the coming months, it will work with Bronson Healthcare on details of the proposed partnership, which will include developing a letter of intent and conducting due diligence.

The SHHS Board of Trustees began its search for a "strategic health care partner" in January, with potential partners identified in February through a request for proposal process. Interviews were conducted in April.

“The South Haven Health System Board of Trustees and administration are excited and pleased to take the next step to ensure we are keeping quality health care close to home by selecting Bronson Healthcare as our future partner,” said Dennis Palgen, board chair, SHHS.

SHHS has multiple facilities in South Haven: a wellness and rehabilitation center; hospital; urgent care clinic; and medical office building that includes family care and pediatrics, integrative medicine and internal medicine and cardiology services. It also operates the Cooper Medical Clinic in Bangor.

SHHS employs more than 300 people and has an annual operating budget of $40 million.

An agreement with Bronson would benefit SHHS patients by providing them with additional access to Bronson’s advanced diagnostics, specialty care and resources.

Joanne Schroeder, president and CEO of SHHS, said being part of a regional system would better position SHHS to adapt to changes as health care continues to evolve.

She noted the two community health systems have a history of working together.

SHHS and Bronson already use the same electronic health record, or EHR, system, which allows for better coordination of care for patients.

SHHS said once terms for an agreement are reached, the transaction will be subject to regulatory approvals and require a public vote to remove SHHS from the hospital authority.

The authority area includes the city of South Haven, city of Bangor and the following townships: South Haven, Bangor, Arlington, Casco, Columbia, Covert and Geneva.

If voters approve the ballot request, citizens in the communities that make up the authority will no longer have to pay taxes to support SHHS.

SHHS said it is too early to tell if enough details will be completed in time for the ballot request to go before voters in the Nov. 8 election or if the vote will occur in 2017.

SHHS said it will keep the community informed as work toward formalizing the partnership progresses and a timeline is established.

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