Cleveland-based MetroHealth System is expanding through a partnership with Big Creek Surgery Center, Middleburg, Ohio.
As part of the deal, MetroHealth will lease space and equipment within the 18,000-square-foot facility. Big Creek's clinical staff—about 25 people—will become MetroHealth employees. MetroHealth said the facility still would be open to independent physicians to perform surgical procedures. The collaboration will begin in 2016.
Big Creek's administrative staff will not become MetroHealth employees, and they will continue to manage the facility. As such, MetroHealth said this is the first time the health system has partnered with an independent group of physicians for management and operating expertise.
The Big Creek deal is another element of MetroHealth's plan to transform its operations and move some of its services off its aging main campus in Cleveland. Just recently, MetroHealth announced plans to transform—through leasing arrangements—two of HealthSpan's urgent care centers in Parma and Cleveland Heights into freestanding emergency departments.
“We look at our growth as a capital-light growth strategy,” said Karim Botros, MetroHealth's chief strategy officer, in an interview. “The idea of leasing seems to be a little bit more effective way to use our capital.”
MetroHealth's presence in the southwestern portion of Cuyahoga County got a big lift about two years ago when it opened its $24 million health center. Since then, Botros said the health system's growth in the market “has been fantastic.”
Botros said the health system is still determining what services it will move from its main campus to Big Creek, but they will likely include some endoscopy, otolaryngology, general and plastic surgery. It might be more convenient for the hospital system to house those services on the main campus, Botros said, but the idea is to place these services closer to where people live.
“Keeping the care in that community drove us to find a partner in that market that we could align with,” Botros said.
Big Creek, meanwhile, sold a minority stake of its enterprise to Middleburg Heights' largest healthcare provider, Southwest General, in 2012. Southwest General, a MetroHealth competitor in some regards, still maintains a stake in the venture. Because of its minority ownership, Southwest General had to sign off on the deal, according to Brad Rauh, Southwest's chief operating officer.
Rauh said in an interview that Southwest General expects to “earn a return on the investment through this transaction.”
In the release, Dr. James Holfinger, chair of Big Creek's board of managers, said, “Joining forces with MetroHealth will ensure that patients will have expanded access to the convenient outpatient surgical services they deserve.”