CHI St. Vincent, Conway Hospital Ink Deal, Form Indie Group

CHI St. Vincent and Conway Regional Health System have signed a five-year management agreement and created the Arkansas Health Alliance, a new corporate entity for independent hospitals to affiliate with CHI St. Vincent, the two health care providers announced Tuesday.

According to a news release, the agreement, effective Aug. 17, represents a partnership, not an acquisition, and the two health systems will retain their names, governance and autonomy. Matt Troup, CHI St. Vincent vice president of ancillary and support services, will become CEO of Conway Regional.

The Arkansas Health Alliance will be led as of Aug. 17 by Jim Lambert, current Conway Regional president and CEO. According to the release, the Alliance will be the only one like it in Arkansas designed to help independent health care systems lower costs and coordinate care.

The Alliance will be seeking partnerships with other health care providers. Lambert said.

“I know through my service on the board of the Arkansas Hospital Association, many independent hospitals are looking for an ally in today’s rapidly changing health care environment,” he said.

The agreement comes as Baptist Health is constructing its competing 264,000 square-foot Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway on Interstate 40. It will open in early 2016. Conway Regional has 154 beds.

A fact sheet accompanying the news release said the partnership gives Conway Regional access to CHI St. Vincent’s resources, contracting power and experience while giving CHI St. Vincent access to a fast-growing area.

Catholic Health Initiatives operates 105 hospitals nationwide, including facilities in Little Rock, Hot Springs, Sherwood and Morrilton. This kind of alliance is part of a national trend and has resulted in positive outcomes for others, the fact sheet said. It said it could not guarantee jobs won’t be cut.

“This new arrangement with CHI St. Vincent is in direct response to the changing health care environment. Conway Regional is in a strong position today, and we are confident that a health care provider our size can be successful in the future – but not without the leadership and deep resources of a much larger health system.”

Chad Aduddell, CEO of CHI St. Vincent, said, “Through this agreement, we plan to work together to grow the health services provided in our communities. Our approach will be consumer-focused and based on the value of services we provide rather than the volume of care, as in the traditional fee-for-service method. … With this agreement in place we know that Conway Regional and CHI St. Vincent can lead the way for other health care systems in the state.”

The final phase of discussions between the two health systems began in late 2013 when Conway Regional’s board announced it was seeking a strategic partner for the hospital. After meeting with numerous health organizations, the hospital began exclusive discussions with CHI St. Vincent in May 2014.

Other leadership changes at Conway Regional include COO Alan Finley, CFO Steve Rose, and Chief Nursing Officer Jacqueyn Wilkerson becoming CHI St. Vincent employees.