Health service groups in Sussex seek merger

SEAFORD — Two neighboring health care entities on the Delaware/Maryland border have entered the regulatory process to become a single health care affiliation.

A Delaware health care review committee Aug. 8 addressed the Peninsula Regional Health System Certificate of Public Review application in its proposed affiliation with Nanticoke Health Services.

“We are continuing through the process,” said Steve Leonard, president/CEO of Peninsula Regional Health Services. “The Aug. 8 meeting was the first meeting of the review committee members.”

On July 15, governing boards of Seaford-based Nanticoke and Salisbury-based Peninsula Regional – reached a definitive agreement to affiliate in a membership substitution.

The proposed affiliation is aimed at enhancing high-level health care.
Final approval ultimately will clear the way for rebranding and operations as a single healthcare system.

In its review, the committee on Aug. 8 considered the:
• relationship of the proposal to the Health Resources Management Plan;
• need of the population for the proposed project;
• availability of less costly and/or more effective alternatives to the proposal, including alternatives involving the use of resources located outside the state;
• relationship of the proposal to the existing health care delivery system;
• immediate and long-term viability of the proposal in terms of the applicant’s access to financial management and other necessary resources;
• anticipated effect of the proposal on the costs of and charges for health care; and
• anticipated effect of the proposal on the quality of health care.

“The intent is for the committee to get to a point where they can make their final recommendation to the full Delaware Health Resources Committee on Sept. 26,” said Mr. Leonard. “Until then, we will continue to participate and respond as the state completes their review of our application.”

About two years ago, Nanticoke launched the search for a partner to help preserve and build upon the services it provides in Sussex County.
After what Nanticoke Health Services CEO Steve Rose termed “a long deliberate search” in which several potential partners were considered, Nanticoke sought Peninsula due in large part to similarity of culture and matching vision and values.

Nanticoke signed a letter of intent several months ago to affiliate with PRHS.
Under the proposal, Nanticoke will continue to provide services in Sussex County and parts of Maryland.

Peninsula Regional Health System, with a decades-long presence in Sussex County augmenting its longstanding Maryland presence, will help to strengthen and enhance Nanticoke’s efforts through integrated care, service expansion where needed and making more readily accessible the Delmarva Peninsula’s most advanced tertiary care services.

“I think together we are going to be bettered positioned, especially for a rapidly-growing Sussex County,” Mr. Leonard said during a July 18 interview. “Nanticoke has had some limitations in terms of investing in really what’s needed to take care of such a rapidly growing county. But together we are going to be really well-positioned to help manage that.”

In the proposed membership substitution, Nanticoke Health Services no longer exists, and Nanticoke Health Services, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and Nanticoke Physician Network become entities of Peninsula Regional Health System, along with Peninsula Regional Medical Center.
Plans are to keep the Nanticoke name in what is now Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford, said Mr. Rose.

The relaunching of the health systems is anticipated sometime next calendar year.

“Both Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and Peninsula Regional Medical Center will retain their names, but we will rebrand under a new system name, much like when Kent General and Milford came together to form Bayhealth,” Mr. Leonard said in July. “It’s a similar process.”

Once complete, the new health system will be renamed in a rebranding process. It will also encompass McCready Health of Crisfield, Maryland, which recently signed a definitive agreement to also join PRHS.

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