The University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center announced this week it has officially teamed up with two rural hospitals: Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, N.Y., and Noyes Health in Dansville, N.Y.
The affiliation will expand programs at Jones Memorial and Noyes Health, and provide its patients with access to specialty care at the University of Rochester, according to a news release.
The deal, which has been in the planning stages for a year, expands UR Medicine, URMC's health system, to five hospitals.
Jones Memorial is a 70-bed hospital that has 12,000 emergency-room visits annually. Noyes Health has five facilities, including a 67-bed hospital. The hospital has approximately 14,600 emergency-room visits annually.
All services at Jones Memorial and Noyes Health will be examined, and leaders will determine which services are needed locally and should be improved, said Mark Taubman, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The first service expanded was cancer treatment. Noyes Health, Jones Memorial and UR Medicine collaborated to build the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center, which broke ground last month and will be completed next year. It will treat residents in southern New York, who previously had to travel up to 90 miles for their care, Taubman said.
Both hospitals are financially stable but the leaders said teaming up with the larger UR Medicine health system allows them to negotiate better prices with payers and vendors.
“Some of our vendors have already given us different pricing knowing we're going to affiliate,” said Amy Pollard, president and CEO of Noyes Health.
University of Rochester has worked with both hospitals for more than a decade. Patients are referred to the University of Rochester if they need specialty care, and specialty physicians from Rochester travel to Jones and Noyes to consult with patients, Taubman said.
“It was a natural fit,” said Eva Benedict, CEO of Jones Memorial Hospital.
Taubman said UR Medicine's flagship hospital, Strong Memorial Hospital, is at 100% capacity because its specialty treatments such as organ transplants and burn care draw patients from across New York. Taubman said collaborating with rural hospitals to expand and improve their own care can free up beds at Strong Memorial.
In an era of takeovers and mergers, Derek DeLia, an associate research professor at the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said an affiliation is more appealing to hospitals because it allows the larger health system to gain patient volume without taking on debts from the smaller hospital.
Affiliations also are especially attractive for small, rural hospitals like Jones Memorial and Noyes Health because they allow the hospitals to maintain a cultural identity familiar to the community, DeLia said.
“Community hospitals are part of the neighborhood in some places,” DeLia said. “That's where people had their kids and where lots of life events happened. You can still maintain your community (with an affiliation).”
Both Noyes Health and Jones Memorial are one of the largest employers in their communities. Noyes Health employs 500. Jones Memorial employs 385.