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      Blessing Hospital / Quincy Medical Group Announcment

      The face of health care in the City of Quincy could change in the coming year.

      Blessing Health System and Quincy Medical Group officials announced today that the two entities are in talks to possibly consolidate their physician groups.

      KHQA found out what this may mean for patients and what spurred on the discussion.

      Leaders on both sides say the idea to consolidate Blessing Physician Services and Quincy Medical Group to create a single practice was spurred by the economy and increasing costs in the health care industry in the coming year.

      Brad Billings, President and CEO of the Blessing Health System said, "Fundamentally going forward we want to grow our business. This is not to reduce our enterprise, but by funding a way to combine resources gives us a greater potential for growth in the future."

      Another factor that contributed to discussions between the entities is a hot national issue. There's talk on Capitol hill of a nationwide universal healthcare program, which would increase the number of patients dramatically and change the way its paid for. In the future, healthcare providers will be paid according to performance, results and quality of care rather than consumption. Officials say if they get ready for the changes now with electronic medical records and new technology, they'll be better able to handle changes in the future.

      Another reason...

      Billings said, "Access to capital. Every business that wants to grow has to have access to capital and we want to be in a position going forward when we're both strong like we both are now financially to better position ourselves with capital for the future."

      If approved in the coming months, the groups will embark on a second round of talks, to work out the details and define how the arrangement may work.

      That would also be the time when a tax status and business structure are determined between the boards and physicians of both practices.

      The hope is forming a single medical group would increase efficiency and cut down on duplicate services which ends up costing patients more money.

      If the consolidation does occur, both officials say patients will see services enhanced.

      What will this mean for patients?

      Aric Sharp, CEO of Quincy Medical Group said, "An average patient their relationship is with their doctor//What we're trying to accomplish is we deliver in a way that focuses on quality."

      Other possible results for patients - better access to care and timely appointments, while the practice could better recruit and retain physicians.

      We asked if this would impact employees at either facility.

      Officials couldn't offer specifics, since no definite plans to consolidate have even been made yet.

      If both groups agree to consolidate in the next 60 to 90 days, officials hope to finalize plans to be up and running as a single group by October 1st.


      The following is a joint news release from Blessing Hospital and Quincy Medical Group announcing changes in patient care and service:

      "The Blessing Health System and Quincy Medical Group have entered into discussions to evaluate current and proposed models that would improve patient access, enhance quality and affordability of healthcare services to individuals in the Tri-State area.

      We are preparing for change, said Aric Sharp, chief executive officer, Quincy Medical Group. The atmosphere in the country and Washington, D.C., indicates to us that some level of reform will likely occur. It is our responsibility to be prepared. True reform will require change by all participants in the healthcare system.

      The anticipated healthcare reform plan centers around three major parts: Quality; Affordable and Portable Health Coverage for All; Modernizing the U.S. Health Care System to Lower Costs and Improve Quality; and Promoting Prevention and Strengthening Public Health. Leadership of the two Quincy-based healthcare organizations anticipates new federal healthcare legislation will increase mandates and place additional burden on healthcare providers, particularly in the care of the uninsured and underinsured populations.

      In addition to potential federal changes, the State of Illinois TM budget woes " currently a deficit estimated between four and five billion dollars and compounded with a backlog of Medicaid reimbursement in excess of six months " add to the challenges for which responsible healthcare providers must be prepared.

      It is the desire of the Blessing Health System and Quincy Medial Group to identify a healthcare delivery model that will best meet the needs of all residents of our region, said Brad Billings, president/chief executive officer, Blessing Health System. We must be prepared to meet the challenges of the future. That critical preparation requires collaboration to explore and analyze various delivery models which will strengthen the delivery of healthcare services.

      The two organizations have a history of collaboration. The Cancer Center at Blessing Hospital and The Surgery Center of Quincy - a department of Blessing Hospital, located on the Quincy Medical Group campus, are two noteworthy examples of how the organizations have worked together to better serve residents of the Tri-State Area.

      Sharp and Billings stress these discussions are important and timely as the industry and the country faces an era of significant economic uncertainty. Leadership of the two organizations recognizes that challenging times call for innovative and collective solutions. A definitive timetable for solutions has not been identified, however, the assessment process will continue over the coming months, and every effort will be made to communicate key milestones if and when they are reached."