GRAND HAVEN — The joint venture on occupational medicine formed with a Muskegon competitor follows North Ottawa Community Health System’s philosophy of looking for ways to collaborate with health care providers in the market.
The new for-profit venture between North Ottawa and Hackley Health, known as WorkPlace Health, creates a larger entity that can better administer and provide a greater array of occupational medical services to employers in northern Ottawa County, as well as generate patient volume for laboratory and diagnostic procedures performed at North Ottawa Community Hospital.
With Hackley Health already a major provider of occupational medicine in the Grand Haven area and possessing a greater expertise in the field, and with a developer offering a “fair price” for the site of North Ottawa’s existing clinic at U.S. 31 and Jackson Street, the deal makes plenty of sense, North Ottawa President and CEO Mike Payne said.
“It’s perfect for us, I thought. It lets us complement each other rather than compete,” Payne said. “The timing couldn’t have been better for us as an organization.”
The deal with Hackley Health is North Ottawa’s first joint venture outside of the partnership formed in the late 1990s with Horizon Medical PLC, a local group of primary-care and specialty physicians, to build and open the $11 million Harbor Dunes Health Center in 2001.
In a broader sense, formation of the joint venture provides North Ottawa a model to use in the future for the delicate task of fashioning collaborations with competitors. Payne, who became North Ottawa’s CEO a year ago, has made collaboration a key strategic objective for the small-town health system.
“It’s a blueprint to look at relationships in general,” Payne said. “It was a good program for us in seeing how the system ought to work for the people we’ve talking with.”
North Ottawa will now consolidate its occupational medicine unit into the Hackley Health facilities on the east side of town and revamp the hospital’s emergency room to better handle urgent care patients that now use the existing MED-1 clinic, which houses both urgent care and occupational medical services that do not mix well under the same roof.
The occupational medical practice provides pre-employment physicals and drug screening, workplace wellness services and non-emergency medical care for employees who incur on-the-job injuries. Between them, North Ottawa and Hackley Health have several hundred employers in the area that contract for occupational medical services.
Rather than compete with North Ottawa for employers in a market the size of Grand Haven, Hackley Health saw an opportunity to collaborate from an economic and customer service standpoint with North Ottawa.
“It made a lot of sense to do it together in a market of this size,” Hackley Community Relations Manager Stuart Jones said. “Given the market size we’re working in, it made a lot of sense to offer one service to employers.”