Zeeland Community Hospital still mulling its future options


    Nine months of studying the options for Zeeland Community Hospital’s long-term organizational structure wrapped up in May with the hospital management going into the details on five options at a strategic planning retreat with the hospital board.

    “We made no recommendations to the board” regarding the options under discussion, said ZCH president Henry Veenstra. For its part, the board asked for some clarifications before it makes any decisions, he said.

    In February last year, the ZCH board rejected a merger proposed by Holland Hospital because it would have consolidated operations in Holland. Then in March 2009, after Holland Hospital announced it would build a $10.5 million medical facility in Zeeland Township — less than a mile from the new ZCH that opened in 2006 — the ZCH board asked HH to reconsider its plans because it would “duplicate services already available or soon to be available in our neighborhood.”

    The new HH facility in Zeeland Township, called Lakeshore Health Partners, is set to open in October.

    Veenstra said the first two of the five basic options facing ZCH are: remain independent, as is, or join in a voluntary alliance with Holland Hospital and North Ottawa Community Hospital in Grand Haven.

    The third option is to “align more closely with Holland Hospital,” said Veenstra, noting that HH has made that recommendation “over the last number of years.”

    Both nonprofit community hospitals have been around a long time, and both have made significant investments in new facilities within the last several years.

    Holland Hospital, an organization more than 90 years old, has 209 beds and completed a major expansion program in 2007. ZCH, which is more than 80 years old, built an entirely new $37 million facility that opened in 2006, with 57 single-patient rooms, plus 15 private emergency exam rooms, upgraded CT scan and digital imagery technologies.

    The fourth option is to align with Trinity Health System, the fourth-largest Catholic health care system in the country. Based in Novi, it operates 44 acute-care hospitals, 379 outpatient facilities, 33 long-term care facilities, and numerous home health offices and hospice programs in eight states from Maryland to California. Its 11 hospitals in Michigan include Saint Mary’s Health Care in Grand Rapids and the Mercy Health Partners hospitals in Muskegon and Shelby.

    The fifth option is to align “more closely” with Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, said Veenstra. Spectrum is the largest not-for-profit health care system in West Michigan with seven hospitals, more than 140 service sites and 2,000 beds system-wide.

    Veenstra did not indicate when the ZCH board would make a decision on its options.

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