Why did Proctor decide to affiliate with Methodist? And why now?

On November 7, 2013, Proctor Hospital officially became an affiliate of UnityPoint Health ­— Methodist. As chair of the Proctor Health Care Incorporated Board of Trustees, I was proud to be part of the process that brought these two great healthcare organizations together. This was the right decision for Proctor, for Methodist and for our community. But I believe that Proctor patients, employees and supporters deserve an answer to their questions: chiefly, why did Proctor decide to affiliate with Methodist? And why now?

After all, Proctor has been caring for people in our community since 1882, when a group of progressive physicians founded a new hospital to deliver advanced medical treatment with compassionate care. Today, dedicated physicians, employees and volunteers continue to meet the needs of Proctor patients, while expanded services like the Hult Center for Healthy Living, the Center for Senior Behavioral Health and the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery are improving the health of central Illinois and beyond. Over the years, Proctor has been proud to be one of Peoria’s three fine hospitals and an independent member of the region’s vibrant medical community. In 1994, Proctor and Methodist explored a potential merger and decided against it; both organizations wanted to maintain their independence.

The Changed Healthcare Landscape
But healthcare today is not what it was 20, 10 or even five years ago. Escalating costs have made the current healthcare delivery system in this country unsustainable. Evolving technology and advances in medicine are rewriting the way care is delivered, with fewer hospitalizations, shorter stays and a greater demand for care in the physician’s office or in your home. Whatever the future of healthcare reform turns out to be, we cannot go back to what worked in the past.

As the smallest hospital in a medium-sized city, competing against two larger players—each now part of still larger health systems, Proctor lacked the resources to transform itself for this new reality. We did not have the large physician network needed to offset declining hospital utilization; we could not continue acquiring the latest technologies to remain competitive; and with limited access to capital, we could not maintain the infrastructure to sustain long-term operations.

The Proctor Board of Trustees, together with President and CEO Paul Macek, were determined that Proctor remain a strong, high-quality institution. The reality is that we could not continue to do that alone.

Building a Partnership
With this recognition, we began to look for a partner who would strengthen Proctor and provide the resources necessary to thrive in the years to come. To guide us in our search, the Proctor Board of Trustees established three overriding goals:

  1. To protect vested pension rights of Proctor employees and assure fair treatment for those employees in any new organizational structure
  2. To preserve the Proctor legacy
  3. To maximize the value of the future contribution of Proctor to the community.

From the start of discussions with the leadership of UnityPoint Health — Methodist, it was clear that the Methodist administration and board of directors respected our goals and were determined to help us achieve them. Methodist President and CEO Debbie Simon, Board Chair Peter Johnsen, and everyone we worked with during the affiliation process were forthcoming during the discussions and 100% committed to achieving a solution that put the needs of our community first. We were pleased to find that the Methodist culture meshed with that of Proctor, and that both organizations share similar missions, visions and values.

We also felt that the UnityPoint Health model, which emphasizes shared resources across the entire system for greater efficiencies and coordinated care, while maintaining local control and local boards, was very much in keeping with the goals we had established.

Plan for Integration
Once the decision was made to pursue an affiliation with Methodist, with the aim of completing the process by year-end, team members from both organizations made an extraordinary effort to achieve this in a remarkably short period of time.

During this time of uncertainty, the employees and medical staff at Proctor remained focused on their mission of providing unmatched healthcare experiences… every day. Two days after the affiliation closed, these men and women demonstrated their commitment to excellence when they received an unannounced visit from the Joint Commission, the primary credentialing authority for hospitals, and lived up to those exacting standards. I commend them for their dedication to their patients and to Proctor.

Now that the affiliation is complete, the real work has begun. Teams from Proctor and Methodist are already developing an integration plan that will build on the strengths of both organizations and optimize our two campuses, multiple ambulatory and clinical sites, and educational services. Without exception, the leadership of Proctor is excited about this new opportunity. Together with our counterparts at Methodist, we are confident that Debbie Simon will lead a combined UnityPoint Health — Methodist | Proctor to an even brighter future for the benefit of everyone in central Illinois. iBi