Q&A

About the Partnership

What are Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health announcing?

We are pleased to announce Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health have agreed to come together to create a new, not-for-profit, locally governed health company designed to shape and lead the future of health care for all South Carolinians. Through this affiliation, the new company will improve the patient experience, clinical quality and access to care and address rising health care costs. Our two leading health systems share a history of collaboration. Now it’s time to join together fully. It’s a bold vision we can make a reality.

Why are Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health coming together?

Our patients and customers are asking for better clinical outcomes at a lower cost, and we believe the new health company is essential to our ability to deliver on this request. With continued reimbursement cuts likely to occur in both the Medicare and Medicaid programs, health systems must take a leading role in accepting financial responsibility for the care they provide. The days of simply passing on cost increases are ending. We must address the underlying drivers of these cost increases. We intend for our new health company to be a model for how private, not-for-profit health systems can effectively compete and bring value to the communities served.

 

This new health company will have the size and resources required to address the serious health issues of those we serve. South Carolina has one of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular and pulmonary disease in the country. The severe impacts of poor health and health disparities in our state are simply not sustainable. Our partnership will give us a unique opportunity to make positive changes over time. We will work together to reach more patients, make South Carolina healthier, attract new team members, spur economic development, offer new and broader services to our patients and help make health care more affordable.

How will Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health’s partnership increase access and improve quality?

Increasing access and improving quality in health care today and in the future requires scale, scope and resources. Coming together will provide the new health company with the ability to enhance patient access to needed local health services in both rural and urban parts of South Carolina that currently are underserved. Importantly, we are committed to caring for people regardless of their ability to pay. Once together, we will drive clinical quality through our enhanced ability to:

 

  • Provide the number and quality of clinical services only possible with the scale of an integrated system covering the Upstate and Midlands.
  • Attract and retain top clinical talent who are seeking innovative and progressive organizations that can provide the patient base, technology, resources and innovation they are seeking.
  • Enhance the development of products and services that insurers, managed care organizations and employers are looking for in health care coverage offerings.
  • Leverage investments in cutting-edge technology.
  • Add resources focused on research and development.
  • Invest in tools and strategies to lower administrative burdens for physicians and nurses, allowing more time to provide even more direct patient care.
  • Attract outside organizations focused on clinical research and development initiatives, including new drug and device trials that will benefit our patient populations.

What happens if Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health don’t join together?

Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health have been successful independent health care systems, but the health care industry is changing. There is great uncertainty in the health care environment in our state and nationally, driven by a changing care model and declining reimbursement. If we don’t join together now, we will begin to struggle without the necessary resources and scale to make the investments and cover the population base expected of us as the health care leaders in the state. We will lose the opportunity to make our state a healthier place to live in the decades to come. And we will be significantly restricted in our ability to provide patient care, as well as in our ability to impact rising health care costs and effectively provide for the health of the populations we serve.

 

Additionally, out-of-state and for-profit health systems are, or are actively considering, venturing into South Carolina. By coming together now, we will ensure our state continues to be led by a local, not-for-profit health company – a South Carolina health company taking care of South Carolinians.

What can Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health accomplish together that we cannot on our own?

Our boards recognize what can be accomplished when we work together. We already have a history of collaboration through projects like our Baptist Easley Hospital joint venture; Care Coordination Institute; Initiant, a multi-hospital cost-savings collaborative as well as a strong foundation of shared cultural and mission commitments. We have the unique opportunity at this time to shape and lead the future of health care in our state by bringing together the best from both organizations. Together, we will be the largest health system in the state and one of the 50 largest in the country. We will have the scale and scope to invest up to $1 billion additional dollars over the next five years in the Midlands and Upstate. This investment will be used for health programs, technology, facilities and team members, which will improve the health of our patients and communities. We will be able to accelerate our investments in solutions to make our residents healthier while also addressing rising health care costs. It’s a bold vision we can make a reality.

Are Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health merging?

Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health are partnering  to create a new health company which will be the parent organization of both Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health.  Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health will remain as separately incorporated not for profit entities. Patients will continue to be patients of Greenville Health System or Palmetto Health.  In a merger, one entity becomes part of the other entity, which is not the form of this transaction.

For South Carolina

What is changing?

While you will not see much in the way of immediate change, once our partnership is approved and complete, we have the opportunity to make positive changes over time as we work to reach more patients, make South Carolina healthier, spur economic development, offer new and broader services to our patients and help make health care more affordable.

 

From a governance perspective, our new organization will be led by one board of directors and one executive team. This new board will consist of directors from boards currently affiliated with Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health. The new organization will be co-led by Greenville Health System Chief Executive Office Michael C. Riordan and Palmetto Health Chief Executive Officer Charles D. Beaman, Jr..

Will medical staffs merge? How about clinically integrated networks (CINs)?

No. Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health will each have their own medical staffs. Their local boards will be responsible for credentialing and privileging and overseeing clinical quality. The two CINs, MyHealth First Network and Palmetto Health Quality Collaborative, have been working together on best practices and other mutually beneficial initiatives for some time now. We see that collaboration increasing but, for now, the CINs will not merge. The leadership of physicians will certainly help shape the direction of our new company.

What happens to local charity and community support commitments?

The new health company will honor existing local charity and community support commitments. Just as we do now, we will review these on a case-by-case basis in the future and measure them against available resources.

 

Together, we are committed to caring for people regardless of their ability to pay. In total, we are already  leading providers of uncompensated and charity care in South Carolina with hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

How will the new health company ensure the broadly diverse population in our state has a voice and is adequately represented?

The new health company will continue to serve our diverse patient population. We believe strongly in diversity within our board, our leadership team, our employee base and our suppliers. A commitment to diversity and inclusion is a cornerstone agreement of the affiliation.

Will the names of our hospitals change?

We have no immediate plans to change the names of any facilities. Greenville Health System and its locations will keep their brands, and Palmetto Health and its locations will keep their brands. Both health care system brands are well-known and respected in their local communities, which brings value to the new health company. Over the next several months, the board will address the new health company’s name and brand within the context of the strong regional Palmetto Health and Greenville Health System brands.

Will any services be impacted?

Nothing changes today. Most important, the doctor-patient relationship will not change. Over time, we hope to enhance our current service offerings and reach more patients.

Will any facilities close or be repurposed?

Nothing changes today and there are no plans to close or repurpose facilities as part of this affiliation.  Any such decision will be the responsibility of the new health company’s board of directors.

What will happen to Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health relationships with academic partners?

All commitments made by Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health to their academic partners remain.  Today, we have several academic partnerships, including affiliations with two medical schools and a college of nursing, dedicated to teaching the next generation of caregivers, 70% of whom stay in South Carolina after graduation. We will further enhance our numerous academic and educational programs as we continue to develop these skilled caregivers. This will ensure we have the physicians and other caregivers needed to meet the health care needs of our patients and communities well into the future.

Next Steps

Do we expect any opposition to the partnership?

As is the case with any type of change, we fully expect something of this size and nature to be opposed by some. Educating our communities about the benefits of our partnership is part of the planning and approval process taking place in the months ahead. Health care is intensely personal and emotional, and we take seriously our responsibility to provide our physicians and advanced practice providers, team members and communities with timely information about what a new health company will mean to them. Importantly, we are committed to sharing our vision for the future of health care in South Carolina. We have a special opportunity to transform health care for the benefit of our patients, our communities and our state.

What are the next steps?

We are taking the first step toward building something new. The boards of directors of both organizations have agreed to combine the operations of Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health. During the next phases of due diligence and planning for integration, both organizations are seeking necessary third-party approvals. In the meantime, Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health will continue to offer care and services as two separate, independent organizations. Once all approvals have been secured, we expect to create teams to begin the integration process. During this process, we will keep our team members, physicians, patients and communities updated through ongoing communications. Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health will continue as two separate and independent organizations until the partnership is approved and completed.

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