By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Charles City Family Health Center and Floyd County Area Family Practice Center have announced they are joining to become one clinic.
According to an announcement from the two clinics, which are already located in the same building, negotiations for the merger have been in the works for about a year, and will become effective Nov. 1.
“This partnership was developed for many reasons,” said Dr. David Schrodt of the Charles City Family Health Center. “As health care changes, we need to change with it.
“By sharing services, we hope to increase access to local health care options and be in a better position to recruit additional providers in the future,” Schrodt said.
The newly joined clinic will be affiliated with the Floyd County Medical Center. The Floyd County Area Family Practice Center had already been affiliated with the hospital, while the Charles City Family Health Center has been a privately owned clinic.
“The patients will not see any difference in how the clinics operate at this point in time,” Schrodt said. “The phone numbers will remain the same for a period of time. The actual merging into one business, although that starts on Nov. 1, what patients see will be transitioned over several months.
“The providers will stay in their same spots. The nursing staff for each physician will stay the same. Who patients talk to when the phones are answered will stay the same in both areas,” Schrodt said.
“The number of patients seen between both clinics is such that the number of employees is going to stay the same and possibly at some point in time need to increase,” he said. “Patients will not see a change in the process of their care.”
Rod Nordeng, the administrator of the Floyd County Medical Center, said a meeting was held Tuesday with employees of both clinics and the management group to announce “the very positive news.”
“One of the very positives is the ability to recruit for the future,” he said. “I think it sends a really strong message to our community and our county that the physicians and others are committed for the long term.
“We’re very fortunate in this county to have five primary care physicians committed and serving the community for a number of years,” Nordeng said. “That’s not always the case in a rural setting.”
With the addition of the clinic, the total staff under the Floyd County Medical Center increases from 200 to 220, said Nordeng, who has been with the hospital for less than a month, but said he was made aware of negotiations to join the two clinics when he was interviewing for the position.
Nordeng said the combined clinic will have a new name, but that hasn’t been finalized yet.
“Options have been narrowed down,” he said. “The goal is to select a new clinic name that can we can use for many years.”
Nordeng agreed that there would be no layoffs because of the merger.
“Recruitment of long-term, quality health care staff is difficult and challenging, so the last thing we want to do is lose any staff over this,” he said.
Nordeng said the move will help the organization deal with continuing changes in health care in insurance and in state and federal rules and requirements, as well as better prepare for the future.
“By doing this we are able to bring resources together and make sure we are following through purposefully and correctly from a business perspective while continuing to provide outstanding health care,” he said.
Schrodt said, “When the doctors at Charles City Family Health Center began looking at our needs for the rest of our practice live, the first thing we realized is that we’re all getting older.”
He said many of the physicians may keep practicing for 10 or 15 years or more, but “you can do the math” and see that eventually they will retire.
“Our practice is pre-computer,” he said. “Right now, if you look at new physicians and how they were educated and trained in a computer era, we’re not competitive for that physician when that time comes.
“To get our practice from where we are now … to what current physicians need and require, is going to take time and investment,” Schrodt said. “We’re very appreciative of the hospital being a partner to get that done, so that when we are ready to retire we can be competitive in bringing in new young professional talent.”
Nordeng said he wanted to stress that for the patients the change will be transparent.
“This is a long-term strategy for us for the viability of the medical center and the clinic,” he said. “For those things that we can’t change or predict, whether they’re on the state or federal level, we’re taking the appropriate action locally.”
Schrodt said, “Planning, so that we can continue to provide services from obstetrics all the way through geriatric care, is our goal, and I think this gives us the security and the stability to do that.”
Nordeng said he also wanted to recognize the physicians, former Medical Center administrator Bill Faust, Chief Financial Officer Ron Timpe and the hospital commissioners for their work over the last year in putting the merger together.